Epilogue: Semper Fi
Two Years Later
Olivia stood near her assigned table and smiled adoringly at the scene before her. The room was decorated beautifully with white roses and candles as far as the eye could see. The tables were covered in white linen and centerpieces that she's proud to say she picked herself. She was honored to be included so much in the planning process, a testament of how much her relationship with her stepchildren has progressed. She cherishes her individual relationships she has with each of them.
Music fills the room and the bride and groom take the dance floor. Her breath hitches when she catches a glimpse of Elliot across the room talking with Fin and Nick and he's trying his best to hold himself together. Their eyes meet briefly and she flashes him a comforting smile that he instantly returns.
Today was hard for him although it was a happy occasion. Another one of his children has gotten married. Made the ultimate commitment to another person to have and to hold, love and cherish and to remain always faithful. A commitment she knows all too well. Although it's been two and a half years since her wedding, she made that commitment long before they stood before a judge on a beach in New Jersey and made it official.
Her eyes drift from Elliot to the bracelet she wore on her wedding day made from the Semper Fi medal that he gave to her when they were separated during a time that feels like another lifetime ago. The same bracelet that she presented as a something borrowed just a few hours ago to the bride.
If there was anyone that deserved the ultimate happily ever after it was Elizabeth Stabler and watching her dance with her husband on the dance floor, she got just that.
Despite his efforts to dislike him over the years, Elliot likes Dean and knows he will take care of his daughter. He and Dickie took Dean out the night before and while Lizzie was nervous at her future husband being double teamed and possibly calling off the wedding, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Elliot would do nothing to compromise his children's happiness. He stood next to Dickie as his best man a year ago when he and Lucy were married but she knows that letting go of Lizzie was just a bit harder for him. He had to just say goodbye to Maureen a few months ago when Jason completed his residency and got a job in Connecticut. It was only a two and a half hour trip away and they had already gone down to visit a few times and vice versa but she knew he would always have issues with any sense of loss when it came to his children.
Olivia almost feels sorry for him but she knows they will both have to do this all over again down the line when the younger children get married. Her eyes scan the room and land on Noah and Eli with Dickie at a table looking as if they are up to no good and although she worries for Lizzie she is amused by the sight. Their little trio, who Maureen dubs "Three the Hard Way" had bonded over the past few years much to the girls dismay. They made it a point to torture the girls and as much as Dickie may have had his doubts about the way things turned out when his parents first divorced, it's his bond with his younger siblings that show what kind of man he has become. A man very much like his father. A man that will be a father himself in four months when Lucy delivers their son.
Lucy and Maureen who have become very close watch Noah, Eli and Dickie closely to see what they are up to and Olivia can't help but laugh at their concern for what they are capable of. Lucy holds Caleb while Maureen holds Violet hoping they don't cause a scene because they are both getting a little tired and cranky. She holds her daughter in one hand and her phone in the other while trying to take a picture of her little sister who today became Mrs. Reynolds.
"Hey Liv, did you get anything to eat yet?" she hears the soft familiar voice ask her.
"No I'm fine," she says her eyes never leaving the dance floor.
"It's hard to believe. I still can't believe that my daughter is married. They are all just growing up so fast."
"Yes they are," she responds nostalgically looking at Charlotte who is now in her daddy's arms. Their bond has not wavered over the years and for as much of a girly girl as her daughter is with her long chocolate locks that she makes sure stays brushed to perfection and her little purse that must always match her shoes, she is a daddy's girl through and through. She would have it no other way.
"You know you are going to have to do this yourself before you know it," Kathy reminds her putting a comforting hand on her arm. They have developed their own understanding especially since Kathy has found her own happiness with her significant other. She follows Olivia's line of sight as she watches her children who have become their own little people and her heart aches for just a moment at the thought of the day when this will be her watching them grow up and move on with their lives.
But for now she will just cherish this moment while they are young.
She will cherish every moment from now on.
An upbeat song comes on and everyone in the audience floods the dance floor. Everyone including Melinda, Amanda, Alex and Casey who are also at the wedding. Munch and Don watch from one of the tables shaking their heads emphatically when Noah and Charlotte, who has left her dad momentarily, run over to them pulling their hands to come and dance. Satisfied that they can't get either of them on the dance floor the two youngsters settle for dancing together next to the table while they cheer them along. Her and Elliot lock eyes again and he shakes his head at her in amusement at the sight of the kids dancing. Their kids are quite the characters but no one would expect any different. They don't always get along because Noah can be stubborn and Charlotte has a feisty streak but there is always solidarity between them when they have a common goal. A fact that Elliot and Olivia learned early on.
Although weddings can be overwhelming and stressful she loves the idea of all the people she loves the most in one room. These are the people who have been there for her when she needed them and as much as she wanted to believe she could live a life of solitude and independence, she needed each of them in her own way. These are the people who have protected her and the ones she loves.
They know her.
They know that she's not fine even when she says is.
They know that she wishes her mom were still here to meet her husband and children.
They know that she worries for her children a lot more than she lets on.
But what they don't know quite yet is that she has completed her retirement papers and within two months she will no longer be the Commanding Officer of the Special Victims Unit.
It was something that was slowly building over the years and as Elliot told her she would know when it was time to go.
It was time.
She made the decision the night of the 50th birthday party and discussed it with her husband. Elliot was supportive and by her side every step of the way. He sat at the table with her when she filled out the paperwork and discussed an exit plan with Chief Dodds who asked her to still consult with the Unit on special cases.
He was there when she accepted an offer to speak at local schools and campuses about sexual assault and domestic violence. He was also there when she met with parents of children that were victims of sexual assault and laid the groundwork to start a foundation to help children and their families deal with the aftermath.
A familiar melody begins playing and she smiles to herself. "Can I have this dance?"
His voice still makes the hair on the back of her neck stand up, his face still causes her heart to race and his proximity still causes butterflies in her stomach. She knows she will never get over this feeling and she doesn't want to.
"Absolutely," she agrees and takes his hand as they walk on to the dance floor.
Her hands encircle his neck and she brings him close to her, where she always wants him.
"Remember this song?" he asks kissing her cheek tenderly.
"It sounds vaguely familiar," she jokes as the sounds of 'Make you feel my love' fill the room. The song they first danced to at their wedding.
He laughs at her less than subtle attempt at humor. "Vaguely hunh?"
She meets his eyes, all traces of humor gone replaced with pure sentiment. "Of course I remember. Our first dance at our wedding. One of the best days of my life."
They dance quietly and as she feels his heart beat steadily against hers, she can't help but smile thinking about the future.
She has all these big plans since she will have more time like traveling to Europe and Australia, something she could never really do before. Despite the bigger plans it's the simple things she looks forward to.
She can't wait to be there for Noah and Charlotte's first day of Kindergarten.
She can't wait to start another chapter in her goal of helping victims.
She can't wait to carve out a legacy with her foundation that she hopes one day her children will follow in her footsteps.
She can't wait to just sit on the porch of her house in a rocking chair holding Elliot's hands while their kids play in the yard.
She's lived one life for so long trying to find herself and now that she's living the life she always dreamed of she can't wait to embark on the rest of the journey.
"I love you," she whispers softly in his ear as their bodies continue to move in sync to the music.
"I love you too. Always."
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