(Chapter Twenty Six: Timing is Everything)
Elliot cursed out loud as he slammed the file cabinet door shut.
"This is bullshit!" he growled in protest.
"Everyone else has been. The only two detectives I have left to send for this training are you and Olivia. I can't send her in her present condition. So you're up to bat," Cragen explained.
"My wife and daughter are both about to give birth! There is some psycho crazy man out there, who may be after Olivia as well and you want to send me to Ohio for some stupid training!"
Olivia raised her head taking notice of the fact that Elliot still referred to her as his wife.
"It is Iowa, and it isn't my choice. It is the national weapons recertification seminar and like I said, they wanted Benson but I couldn't send her nine months pregnant. She'll have to go this fall. Assuming the two of you won't have any more little Stabler miracles on the way."
"I'll be ready," Olivia replied resting her arm across her belly.
"Good. Now that is the attitude to have. You could learn something from her," Cragen said pointing at Olivia as he looked at Elliot. "I realize the timing is bad and I apologize for that. But unless you'd like to take the rest of the afternoon to go out and find another job, you are going and that is final!"
Olivia flinched as Elliot cursed again and pushed his office chair sending it crashing into the wall. He stormed off into the locker room slamming the door behind him. Olivia carefully raised herself up from her and started across the room to go check on him.
"I wouldn't do that," Munch warned before she reached the locker room door. "He is pretty pissed."
"Elliot doesn't scare me. I know he would never hurt me."
"She's right," Fin replied joining into the conversation. "One of us walks in there it is just gonna set him off. She's the only one who can calm him down."
Olivia shrugged her shoulders and pushed open the locker room door. Across the room Elliot was now dressed in his work out clothes and taking his anger out on a punching bag. Olivia said nothing, she just took a seat on the bench and sat quietly as she watched him work out his frustrations on the bag.
"Do you feel better now?" she asked calmly as Elliot's grunts and punches came to a halt.
Elliot looked at her only for a second before firing off a few more punches into the bag.
"He just pisses me off!"
"The situation pisses you off," she corrected. "It isn't his fault."
"Look at you," he replied pointing to her swollen abdomen. "How can they expect me to leave now?"
"Elliot, I'm not due for another month."
"That's good," he replied moving to sit beside her. "At least Mia's on daddy's side."
Olivia smiled as Mia kicked the place where Elliot's palm touched her belly.
"She knows you're talking to her. She always gets so active when she hears her daddy's voice."
"She's daddy's girl," Elliot said with a proud smile.
"Already," Olivia agreed.
"Can you do me a huge favor?" Elliot asked looking into Olivia's eyes.
"Would you stay at the house with the kids? Just until I get back from this trip? I know they'll be alright with the watch outside and I know you can take care of yourself….It would just make me feel better about having to leave."
"I can do that."
"Everything will be just fine. Try not to worry. Just go and do whatever it is they want you to do. Get your recertification out of the way and come back home. I'll hold down the fort until you get back."
"I just don't want the kids to be scared. And with Kathleen's due date in a week and a half, I would just really rather you be there with her if something should happen."
"The doctor checked her at her appointment yesterday, she has not even started dilating yet. And first babies usually take longer. It is very common for women to go past their due dates. I'm sure you will be there and back before any of us are needed in the delivery room," she said trying to cheer him up.
"I hope you're right."
"Aren't I always?" she laughed with a smile.
That evening Olivia joined Elliot and the kids for dinner. He explained to them that Liv was going to stay there with them for the next week while he had to go away on a trip for work.
That night Olivia sat on the edge of the bed reading a romance novel as Elliot packed his bag.
"Steamy," he said with a suggestive smile as he read the back cover.
"Hey, some of these writers are very descriptive."
"I thought you were more of a true crime kinda girl."
"I read a little bit of everything. But I really shouldn't be reading this this late."
"I'm sorry I'm keeping you up. I am almost done here, then I'll retire to the couch so you can get some rest."
"You're not bothering me," she said with a smile. "It's just when I read these stories this late they….effect my dreams."
Elliot raised an eyebrow only half sure of what she meant.
"Effect?" he asked clearing his throat.
"Yea," she answered with a shy smile as she closed the book for the night. "It must have something to do with the pregnancy hormones."
"Oh, effect?" Elliot repeated finally starting to understand what she had been trying to say.
"They get my mind going and make me have crazy sex dreams."
"Wow," Elliot said kind of shocked she would even tell him about this.
"Did Kathy ever have anything like that when she was pregnant?"
"I'm not sure. If she did she never told me. She wouldn't have told me if she did."
"I don't know. She didn't really like to talk about sex stuff."
"You were her husband. She didn't discuss these things with you?"
"No, we never really discussed anything having to do with sex."
"You never talked about what the two of you wanted….in the bedroom? Or traded fantasies with each other?"
Elliot shook his head.
"I just thought those things were normal conversation for married people. I mean, how could a girl know what you like if she is afraid to ask?"
"Kathy was….shy. We didn't discuss things and we didn't really explore things sexually. I am the only man she ever slept with."
"Did you even have sex?"
"Occasionally. And when we did, we got pregnant."
"Not that there is anything wrong with missionary," she quickly clarified. "But it is fun to experiment with lingerie and different positions, too. How do you know you wont like something if you never try it?"
"I'm sure you get all kinds of crazy ideas from these books," he said turning the book around to look at the lusty picture on the cover.
"Some," she admitted.
"You never told me about any of your fantasies," Elliot replied as she smiled. "But I did enjoy the super sexy and wild birthday sex."
"So did I," she said rubbing her hands over her belly.
"I know we're not married anymore. But you can still talk to me. You can tell me anything," he said placing his hand over hers and squeezing it as he smiled at her. "Even your fantasies," he joked as he stood from the bed.
Elliot walked across the room and shut off the light as he made his way into the hallway.
"Good night, El."
"Good night, Olivia."
She settled in against the pillow and pulled the sheet up against her face. She drew in a deep breath and could smell his cologne on the bed sheets.
"Elliot," she said softly in the stillness.
"Yes?" he asked returning to her side and kneeling to look at her.
"I never told you about my fantasy, because you were my fantasy."
Elliot couldn't help but smile at her confession.
"I'd had this crush on you since we'd first met. Not crazy stalker type crush, I just wondered sometimes what we would be like….together."
"Yea, me too," he admitted.
"Really?" she asked with a shy smile as he sat down beside her.
"Oh yea. You were smart and sexy and beautiful. You were funny as hell and the best damn cop I'd ever seen. You were my partner and best friend and we were closer than I had ever been with anyone else, including my wife. You were off limits, and that made me want you even more."
"Not much of a fantasy anymore, huh?" she asked.
"It is different now."
"It isn't hot sex now. It responsibilities and obligations."
"Before it was fantasizing about hot sex with a woman I wasn't allowed to have," he clarified. "Now it is dreaming of raising a family and making a life with the only woman I will ever love. Making love to her, as my wife and holding her every night, sleeping beside her, and growing old together. That is all I want, Liv."
The room was quiet for a moment and through the darkness he could tell she was crying.
"I love you, Olivia. You and these kids are my entire world. I love you more than I have ever loved any woman in my life and I know that I will never love anyone else the way that I love you. I understand that you need time, so I will give that to you. Just know that no matter how long it takes or what you decide, I am always going to love you."
Elliot listened as she whispered softly, "I love you , too."
"And as long as it takes, I will wait for you."
Elliot stood once more and kissed the top of her head, then Olivia watched as he disappeared down the hallway.
The next morning the kids had already left for school when it came time for Elliot to head to the airport. Olivia drove him and waited with him at the gate until they began loading the plane.
"I have flown probably a hundred times and planes still freak me out," she said staring out the large glass window at the runway. "It usually takes me a handful of Valium and two or three of those miniature bottles of vodka before I can relax."
"Relax? That would be enough to knock out a horse for an eighteen hour flight to Hong Kong."
"Like I said, I am not good with flying."
"Why I do believe I have found your kryptonite, Superman."
"It isn't funny. There are millions of people who have a fear of flying. And I prefer Batman."
"You do, huh? Well, Batman flies, too."
"More of a glide, really. He spends most of his time hanging out in the Bat cave and cruising the streets of Gotham City trying to pick up chicks in the Bat mobile. No super hero has a cooler car. And black is very sexy."
Elliot laughed, a little surprised that she knew her superheroes' at all.
"What about Spiderman?"
"Na," she replied.
"Oh come on, the man can scale buildings and shoot spider webs from his fists."
"Yea, I think it's the web thing that kind of creeps me out.'
They laughed together.
"I have always been partial to Superman, myself."
"Why is that?" she asked expecting some silly answer.
"Well, because all of these other superheroes are just regular people who create a an alter ego to try and save the world from injustice. Superman is the super hero, he fights for justice while trying to live a normal life. The man knows who he is and uses it for a good cause. He didn't go out and create a false identity to use while he runs around kicking bad guy ass. You have to admit that is pretty amazing."
Olivia smiled at the fact that they were having this detailed a conversation over a bunch of fictional characters. And the fact that in under a minute Elliot had managed to work up a complete profile on Superman.
"I guess I never really thought of it that way before," she admitted.
They walked slowly toward the gate as a woman's voice announced his flight number over the loud speaker.
"That's me," Elliot said slipping the strap of his laptop case over his shoulder.
"Call me when you land….so I know you made it safe."
"I will," he replied as a smile slowly crossed his face.
"And be careful."
"It's just a week," Elliot said with a nod.
"I know, but these planes are so dangerous."
He hugged her then turned to go. Olivia watched as he pulled his boarding pass from the pocket of his suit jacket then turned and walked back to her.
"There is something I need to say. I know it isn't exactly what you want to hear right now, but it has been on my mind for months and I just really need to say it."
"Okay," she replied looking a little worried.
Elliot pulled a small velvet box from the pocket where he had kept the plane ticket.
"I've been carrying this around for six weeks, trying to find the perfect moment. I guess this one is as good as any," he replied dropping to one knee as he opened the box and offered her the diamond inside.
Olivia stood there speechless as a crowd began to gather. Elliot watched as tears welled up in her eyes.
"Liv, I know that you need time. And I know that you are not ready to take this step just yet. But I want you to know that you are the only one I will ever want. I love you with all of my heart. You are the best part of me. You are what has kept me going all of these years and I don't know where I would be if I didn't have you. I wouldn't want to know. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, as husband and wife. It doesn't have to be now, it doesn't even have to be this year. But I know that in this lifetime I want to marry you. And I want to get on this plane knowing that if God decides it is my time to go and I don't get to come back home to you, you knew just how much I love you. Olivia Dawn Stabler, will you marry me? Again?"
"El," she breathed softly as she looked at the strangers around them.
"Someday," he whispered as he stared into her eyes. "Whenever you decide you are ready. I will wait for you. And when the time is right for you, say you will be my wife. Just think about it. You and me and Mia and the kids. We make a pretty great family, Liv. And that family just isn't the same without you in it. I need you. I love you. Like I have never loved anyone else before."
Olivia wiped a tear from her cheek and drew a deep breath as she nodded her head in agreement, unable to speak.
"I love you," she finally managed to get out as Elliot stood and she hugged him tight.
"I love you too, baby." He said with a proud smile as the strangers around them began to applaud.
Elliot held up the little box for her to see once more.
Olivia pressed her lips together as he pulled the ring out and slipped it onto her finger, an even bigger and more beautiful diamond than he had given her the last time they were married.
"You hold on to this for me, okay?" he asked with a smile. "And when I get back we can start working on things. Slowly. I don't care if it takes years, you are the one I want to be with. I'm alright with a long engagement, as it is you walking down the aisle to me in the end."
Olivia hugged him again.
"Come home safe to me. We will all be waiting here for you," she said softly as she smoothed her hands over her belly.
Elliot knelt once more to kiss her belly, then kissed his fiancée.
"I love you baby doll," he said kissing her tenderly once more.
"I love you too," she replied brushing the tip of her nose against his and smiling as she leaned in to kiss him again.
Olivia waved to him from the big window as she watched the plane take off.
She spent the next few hours in a daydream, sitting at her desk staring at the ring on her left hand and thinking about the man who had claimed her for his own. Her man. Her ex-husband and soon to be husband once more.
She thought about the details of their first wedding, how perfect and beautiful everything was and how happy everyone seemed. Then she though about how badly it hurt her to uphold her end of the agreement and sign those divorce papers. She knew then that she was in love with him and it killed her to let him go, but she was a woman of her word.
"What's this?" Fin asked grasping her hand to admire the ring. "He finally talked you into it, huh?"
Olivia smiled shyly and folded her arms in front of her.
"We are going to take things slow."
"Good for you. He has been crazy about you forever. And he's been moping around here kicking himself for pushing you away. That man loves you more than I have ever known a man to love a woman. All he wants is to spend his life making you happy."
"I love him, too. And I want to be with him, there was never a time that I didn't. I just don't want to rush into something and it end up falling apart because we jumped in over our heads. Our kids need a secure future. All of our kids. We can't take a gamble with this, we have to be sure."
"I think he is sure," Fin said turning the ring under the light to watch it sparkle. "I think if any couple can make it, it is the two of you. You belong together."
"Do you really think so?"
"I do," Fin replied with a confident nod. "Congratulations."
"Thanks, Fin. For being such a good friend and a shoulder for us both to lean on."
"I'm here anytime you need me."
That evening after Elliot called Olivia to check on the kids and tell her how much he loved and missed her, they decided to keep the new engagement a secret from the kids until Elliot could be there with her to make the announcement.
Three nights later, Kathleen woke Olivia up in the middle of the night to tell her that something didn't feel right. After a while she began to have contractions, they started off slow then began to grow closer together.
"When can we go to the hospital, Liv?" she asked with pain in her eyes.
"The doctor said when they are five minutes apart or your water breaks. She said you have not reached your due date yet and there is still a good chance that the contractions could stop and you might not actually be in labor."
"I wish they would stop," she whined and Olivia felt so horrible for her.
"I know it hurts, honey. It just meant that you are getting closer to time to have the baby. Before long it will all be over."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Kathleen admitted with tears in her eyes.
Olivia hugged the girl tight. She paced the floor the rest of the night timing contractions with Kathleen, nervously waiting until they were close enough together to take the girl to the hospital for delivery. At one point they had gotten down to seven minutes apart, then just seemed to fade away.
When morning came, Olivia awoke to find Kathleen asleep in the bed beside her. She got up and moved to the kitchen to get breakfast ready for the other kids before school.
"How is Kathleen doing?" Maureen asked in her motherly way.
"She is resting now. She's sleeping pretty good, I don't want to wake her. She was up most of the night."
"But it still isn't time?"
"Not just yet. But she is exhausted," Olivia said scribbling out a note and handing it over to Maureen. "Can you take this in when you drop the twins off? I'll call the school and let them know I am keeping her home. I am going to try to get her in to see the doctor today and see if she has made any progress or if they can tell how close she is to actual labor."
"My biology teacher said it takes some women days to give birth."
"Days?" Olivia asked feeling a little mortified, herself.
"I hope she at least holds out until dad gets home. He will be here in two days."
"I know your father wants to be here for her. He called me every hour on the hour last night to check on her. But this baby will come when it is ready to come. And there isn't much any of us can do to hold it off."
"I guess you're right," Maureen replied downing the last of her coffee.
"I am going to stay home with her today. Hopefully we can both get some rest."
"I'll have my phone on vibrate, call me if anything happens."
"I will, I promise."
Olivia yawned as she watched Maureen's car back out of the driveway. She was wore out, but now that she was awake, Mia was convinced it was time to eat. She grabbed a quick bowl of cereal and some fresh fruit as she called Kathleen's school to report her absence. Then headed back to Elliot's king sized bed to sleep beside her daughter.
That afternoon, Olivia took Kathleen into the doctor's office for a last minute check up. The doctor checked her and said that the baby was in position and ready to go. She said that Kathleen had now dilated to a two, but her water hadn't broken and that she could have the baby at any time. The doctor scheduled her for another appointment in a few days to track her progress.
Feeling miserable, Kathleen just wanted to go home and sleep. Olivia drove them home and started dinner while Kathleen laid down for a nap. Olivia could tell that she was wore out and ready for it all to be over. After dinner, Olivia gave Eli a bath and helped the twins.
After tucking everyone into bed for the night, she called her soon to be husband.
"Hey pretty," Elliot answered on the second ring. "Is everything okay?"
"So far, so good," Olivia replied as she settled into Elliot's side of the bed.
"How's my girl?"
"She is holding up. The doctor said the baby is in position and she had dilated to a two. Her water hasn't broke yet, but she could go at any time. She has another appointment in a few days to see if anything has changed."
"I was talking about you," he said with a tired laugh.
"I'm okay. Tired, but I'm alright. It has been a long 24 hours!"
"I'll bet. Tell Kathleen to hang in there. It will all be over soon. I will be home in two days, hopefully she can wait that long."
"She is trying to. I can tell that she doesn't want to have this baby without you there. I went ahead and pulled her out of school. I figured she should probably rest as much as she could before so she isn't so tired during labor."
"That sounds like a good plan. I don't know much about labor, though."
"Me either. I feel so bad for her. She is scared and in pain and I just wish I had already gone through this so that maybe I could help her more."
"Yet another reason why kids should not be having kids."
"I know, El. But she really needs our support now more than ever."
"I am so glad that she has you there with her. I feel bad that she really needs me and I am so far away."
"She knows you would be here if you could."
"Have you had any trouble?"
"No, the kids have been great."
"Any news about Parker?"
"Nothing. Not a sign of him. I am beginning to think this man just fell off the face of the earth."
"Or ran off to start another crime spree."
"Well he isn't very original, so if he did it wont be long before his pattern emerges and we snag him again."
"True. It's getting late there. I'd better let you go so you can get some rest."
"I'm not tired," Olivia yawned into the phone. "Well, maybe a little. But it's good to hear your voice."
"It's good to hear yours too sweetheart. And I cant wait to come home so that we can tell the kids our little secret."
"About that, Fin kind of knows."
"I wore my ring at work the other day and he was the only one who seemed to notice. He said congratulations."
"Have you thought about things?"
"I am still thinking," she said with a smile.
"I know, I'm sorry. I'll stop pushing. I promised you time and I can give you that. You have promised to marry me, that's a hell of a start. I think I can settle for that for now."
"You know what I mean."
"Yes, I do."
"Before we get off here, let me talk to Mia."
"Just hold the phone to your belly, I want to tell my daughter goodnight."
"Okay," Olivia laughed. "But I am not sure she'll be able to hear you."
She moved the sheet down over her waist and raised her gown to place the receiver against her bare belly. Things were still for a moment then Olivia began to laugh in amazement as Mia reacted to her daddy's voice.
"She is kicking like crazy! What did you say to her?"
"I told her that daddy loved her. And that she should be a good girl for mommy while I'm away. Oh, and she isn't allowed to date until she is thirty."
Olivia laughed again as she felt a kick in the rib cage.
"I think she is protesting."
"Sorry I got her all stirred up."
"She'll settle down soon. She is usually sound asleep by now."
"So are you," Elliot replied. "Goodnight baby, I love you."
"I love you, too. Goodnight, El."
And with that, Olivia hung up the phone and settled in for the night. The next day, Kathleen seemed to feel better. She sat at the table doing homework while Olivia worked from her laptop across the room.
Olivia fixed them an early lunch around eleven and after a nap and some more homework, Kathleen even stood in the kitchen to help make dinner. That evening Kathleen was standing in the bathroom blow drying her hair after a shower when she began having the all too familiar pains once more.
Olivia helped her time them for a couple of hours, before they seemed to be one right on top the other. She called Maureen to come sit with the other children and carried Kathleen's bag as she helped the girl to the car.
Olivia called Elliot to tell him they were on their way to the hospital. She still wasn't sure if they would admit Kathleen since her water hadn't broke, so she told Elliot she would call him back and let her know what they decided to do.
As soon as he got the word that Kathleen was infact being admitted, Elliot began the search to a flight back home. Two hours later he called Olivia to tell her that he was heading home on a red eye and would be there as soon as he could.
The sun was just beginning to rise as Elliot climbed from the cab and dashed across the hospital parking lot. He took the elevator to the labor and delivery floor and ran down the hallway. Just on the other side of two large double doors he saw Olivia standing there in tears.
"What happened?" He asked as his heart sank in his chest.
"She had the baby about half an hour ago. They are getting her cleaned up now."
"Is everything okay? Is Kathleen alright?"
Olivia nodded through her tears.
"She did really good," she sobbed as he wrapped her in his arms and he kissed her.
"Liv, are you okay."
"Yea, I'm good. I just….I can't help it."
"Were you in there with her?"
"Holding her hand through the entire thing. They let me cut the cord."
She locked her fingers in Elliot's and led him down the hall to the nursery window.
"There," she said pointing to an infant with a head full of blonde fuzz. "Nine pounds, eleven ounces. Almost ten pounds," she laughed nervously. "The doctor wanted to do an emergency cesarean, but Kathleen wouldn't give up. She pushed for three hours."
Elliot placed his palms against the glass to stare at the baby. He laid his forehead against the window fighting off tears of his own.
"This is your grandson," she whispered softly trying hard not to fall completely apart.
Elliot was quiet for a few moments and she could see tears as they slid down his face.
"How is Kathleen?" he breathed in a hoarse whisper.
"The doctor said she is doing fine."
"And the baby?"
"A perfectly healthy little boy," she said as she placed her hand against the glass.
"Has Kathleen seen him?" he asked turning his head to look at her.
"For a few moments. Right after he was born the doctor handed him to her."
"How did she react?"
"She cried, El. How do you think she reacted. She was holding her son for the first and probably the last time. Then she handed him over to the nurse and they brought him out here. I sat with her for a little while and just held her while she cried."
"She's just a kid, Liv."
"She is in no way prepared to raise a child."
"I know that, too."
"She has already picked out the perfect family for this little guy. He will be just fine," Elliot said trying hard to convince himself.
Olivia drew a deep breath and exhaled. She was quiet for a moment as she stared at the baby.
"How can we make her do this?" she asked softly as Elliot raised his head once more.
"What are you talking about?"
"Giving up her baby, Elliot. That is what I am talking about."
"Olivia, we are not keeping this baby! She is not even eighteen yet. She is in high school…."
"On the honor roll!"
"In high school! She has not even started college yet! She doesn't have a job! The father is….God knows where! She can't take care of this child."
"Not if we keep telling her that. How would you feel? If we spent almost ten months getting to know Mia, then someone came along and said you couldn't keep her? That they found another home for your child and some strangers were going to raise your daughter?"
"I am a grown man! I finished school and got a job! I support my children! There is a difference!"
"And she can too if we just help her! If we give her a little support….she might be a wonderful mother to that child if you'd just give her the chance."
Elliot stood there shaking his head in protest.
"We had an agreement."
"Elliot, if you force her to do this, you are going to lose her. She is going to lock all of her emotions up inside herself and she is going to resent you for it."
"If I let her take this baby home and she gives up her life and her dreams….If I allow this and it ruins her life, I will resent myself!"
"And if you give her the chance and she can't do it, then it would be her choice. And at least she would know that she did everything she could, that she tried. This is the hardest thing she will ever have to face. And she is being so strong. Trying so hard to make daddy proud, Elliot. So hard and it is killing her inside! But she doesn't dare say anything in fear of disappointing you again."
Elliot stood quiet for a few moments as Olivia wiped her eyes and stared at the newborn.
"She doesn't even have anything. No clothes or bottles, no diapers, no crib."
"She can use mine," Olivia said softly as she stared into the window at the baby.
Elliot raised his head to afraid of what she was trying to tell him.
"What about Mia?"
Olivia laid her head against his shoulder and hugged his arm.
"Mia only needs one crib if we are all living in the same house," she replied softly staring at him with her big brown eyes. Elliot could tell this was her polite way of making a deal with him.
He looked back at the baby boy once more.
"She will finish school."
"Of course," Olivia agreed.
"And go to college."
Elliot turned to stare into Olivia's eyes once more as she smiled and kissed him.
"Thank you," she whispered softly.
"You are right, I could never give up one of my children. How could I expect Kathleen to give up hers? But some changes will be made. You and I already have a baby to raise. If she chooses to keep him, she will be the parent of this child."
Olivia hugged his arm adoringly as Elliot wrapped his arms tight around her.
"Hmm," she said with a soft laugh.
"What?" he asked.
"Who would have thought that I'd be a grandmother, before I became a mother?"
Elliot chuckled and kissed the side of her neck.
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
"And this is about to be an animal house. You know that, right? Life as we know it is over. We will never sleep again!"
"Not for the first several months anyway," she agreed.
"Two newborns. Twice the clothes, twice the diapers and twice the formula."
"Twice the smiles, twice the giggles and twice the first steps." She turned to brush her nose against his and kissed him tenderly. "You should go see Kathleen and tell her the good news."
"Aren't you coming?"
"I'll be in there in a bit. I'm going to go get you some coffee and find some food for your other daughter," she said pointing at her belly, "I think the two of you need a little time alone."
Elliot smiled at her and slipped his fingers between hers once more, this time noticing she was wearing her engagement ring.
He watched her disappear into the elevator, then drew a deep breath and headed down the hall to his daughter's hospital room.
"Knock, knock," he said softly entering the room with a vase of roses he'd bought from a machine down the hall.
"Daddy," Kathleen said in excitement as she sat up and reached out to hug him.
"I am so sorry, baby. I tried to get back here in time."
"It's okay. I know you tried. And Liv was here."
"She has really been here for you guys a lot lately, huh?"
"She has always been here for us dad. Especially since mom passed away."
"I'm thankful for that. I know there have been so many times that you have needed your mother….a woman to talk to. I'm afraid there are some things dear old dad just isn't much help with."
Kathleen settled against her pillow and Elliot could tell she was exhausted.
"I wont keep you long, baby. I know you are tired. But I thought it was important that we talked about this now, rather than later."
Kathleen turned her head toward the window in an attempt to keep Elliot from seeing her cry.
"Baby…" he began and she cut him off.
"I know. And I know why this is best," she sobbed. "But it still hurts so much."
Elliot pulled up a chair beside her bed and knelt to her level.
"Look at me," he said as she stared at him with her sad blue eyes. "Your future is the most important thing right now. Finishing school and going to college. Making your dreams come true. Promise me you will never give up on that."
Kathleen looked confused.
"I promise," she whispered.
"You will stay at the house with us."
She tipped her unsure of what he meant.
"You will finish high school. No excuses!"
"I will," she agreed.
"After high school you and the baby will live at home with us…"
Kathleen began to breathe rapidly and started to cry again.
"You will go to college!"
"Yes, sir," she agreed with a nod.
"You'll get a part time job to help with the baby expenses while you are living at home. I won't let you ruin your future. It is not just about you anymore Kathleen. If you keep this baby, you have to think about what is best for him. And what is best for him is you graduating college so you can get a good career and give him all of the things he wants and needs. This is your child. Olivia and I will help out when we can, but he is your responsibility. You get up with him at night. You are on diaper duty. We are giving you the chance to give motherhood a try. If you try this and decide that it isn't what is right for you, then we can still consider adoption resources if you want. This is up to you. But those are the conditions."
Kathleen smiled through her tears.
"Thank you daddy," she said softly as she hugged him tight.
She smiled as Olivia walked back into the room.
"Dad, can I talk to Olivia alone for a moment?"
Elliot looked at Kathleen, then looked back at Olivia.
"Girl stuff," Kathleen insisted.
"Alright, but just for a few minutes. Then you need to get some rest. I'm gonna take Liv home to get some sleep as well. Maureen is gonna come back up here and sit with you. We'll bring the other kids by after school to meet their new nephew."
"Okay," Kathleen said as Elliot leaned in and kissed her.
"I love you, baby."
"I love you too, dad."
"And Kathleen," Elliot said turning to look back at her, "I am so proud of you. Mom would be, too. He is beautiful, honey."
"Bye dad," she said with tears in her eyes as she waved to him.
"What's up kiddo?" Olivia asked sitting on the edge of her bed. "Is there anything special you want me to bring you from home?"
"No, I just wanted to thank you. For being here with me, for going in there with me. And for talking to dad."
Olivia tipped her head and blinked.
"Come on, Liv. I know my father well enough to know that when he had his mind made up there is no use in even trying. He never would have let me keep the baby if you hadn't talked him into it."
Olivia smiled and tucked a piece of blonde hair behind the girl's ear.
"Everyone deserves a chance. I know that you have it in you to be an amazing mother to that little boy."
"I don't know much about babies."
"But you know what it takes to be a good mom. You had an amazing mother and your dad is right, she would have been so proud of you today."
Kathleen smiled and kissed Olivia on the cheek.
"I've had two amazing mothers," she said with a smile.
"Get some rest, kid," Olivia said standing and kissing the tip of her nose. "I love you. And if you think of anything that you want….pizza or a cheeseburger," Olivia paused and they both laughed. "Seriously though, if you need me baby just call me. And I will bring you some dinner because hospital food is nasty and you are going to need your strength to take care of that beautiful grandson of mine."
Elliot was standing in front of the window talking baby talk to the little boy when Olivia walked out of Kathleen's room.
"I see the two of you are getting acquainted."
"I think he looks like me."
"I think he looks like her."
"He's gonna need a name," Elliot said tapping gently on the glass.
"He already has one," she replied and Elliot turned around to look at her.
"She told you his name?"
Olivia smiled as she peered down at the baby boy.
"Isaiah Elliot Stabler. After his grandfather."
"That's a good name," he said smiling down at the baby.
"I think it fits him perfectly. And he has those Stabler blues."
"Yea, that was the first thing I noticed when they handed him to me after he was born. That and the fact that he was a boy of course."
"A big boy."
"A big, beautiful, healthy boy. I have got to bring my camera when we come back this afternoon and get some pictures to show off at work."
"I am not quite sure how all of this is going to work out, but I know that together you and I can handle anything. I am so thankful to have you by my side. I love you so much."
"I love you, too. Hey, how did you do on your certification?"
"That bad, huh?"
"Let's just say I will be retaking it again with you this fall."
"Oh, no! How did you score?"
"I don't know. I was supposed to be there today to finish up the test and I left to come back here and be with Kathleen. Cragen will be pissed, but he'll get over it eventually."
"I am sure he'll understand."
"I'm not to worried about it. He won't really fire me and this is where I needed to be."
"I'll bet you are exhausted."
"I am. And you are, too. I can tell. Who wouldn't be after being up two nights in a row and helping to deliver a baby."
"I just held her hand and cut the cord. Kathleen and the doctors did all of the work."
Elliot slipped his arms around her waist and gazed lovingly into her eyes.
"I have missed you so much."
Olivia smiled back at him.
"I've missed you, too."
He brushed a piece of hair from her eyes and kissed her once more.
"What do you say we go home?" he asked tracing his thumb over her bottom lip. "These arms have been dying to hold you."
"I think that sounds like a wonderful idea," she said as he wrapped her tight in his arms and hugged her. "Let's go home."