Hey guys, I'm so sorry for the long wait. This chapter is on the short side, and I apologize for that too, but it is an important one. I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think, and I'm sorry for taking so long!
December 25th, 2011
"Sissy, wake up! Wake up, Santa came!" Was the chorus that Ariella was woken up to on Christmas morning. The rest of the family and Taylor observed as Eli jumped on her, until she finally sat up, wrapping her arms around him suddenly, making him giggle.
"I'm up, I'm up!" She called, laughing.
"Come on! Santa came!" He insisted, sliding off the edge of the bed to the floor, pulling on her hands.
Laughing the whole time, Ariella let him pull her out of bed.
"Welcome to Christmas with a little kid," Maureen teased. "It's eight in the morning!"
Ariella smiled, "It doesn't matter." She said. "Come on!" She then smiled, taking Eli's hand. "Santa came!" She reminded him, and together, they led the way downstairs.
The tree they'd all carefully decorated was lit up, and underneath is was stacked with presents. The stockings they'd hung on the fireplace were now on the floor, stuffed full.
Eli was trying to make a break for the presents, but a smiling Kathy had lifted him into her arms. "You know the rules, Eli, you gotta eat breakfast first, then we open presents!"
Smiling, everyone filed into the kitchen to sit at the table, but Ariella and Taylor hung back a minute. He put an arm around her waist, gently pulling her body against his, kissing her. "Merry Christmas, baby," He says, smiling.
"Merry Christmas," She says back, reaching up to kiss him again, before leaning into him for a minute, sighing happily. "This is so...almost perfect." She says.
"Almost?" Taylor questions.
"Dad." She says quietly. "He promised he'd be here."
"Can I talk to her for a minute?"
They both looked up to see Olivia standing there. Taylor nodded, kissing Ariella's forehead before moving on into the kitchen. "What's up?" Ariella asks.
Olivia says nothing at first, and just wraps her arms around Ariella, holding her close. Smiling, Ariella lets herself rest against her mother, hugging her back tightly. "I love you, mom." She says. "Merry Christmas."
"I love you too, Rellie," Olivia says back, finally letting her go. "Merry Christmas. I just...try not to be too upset, ok? I know it sucks. And you have every right to be mad, I am mad at him too. Just..."
"It's his job?" Ariella supplies for her.
Sighing, Olivia nods. "Yea. It's his job."
"I'll be fine." Ariella says. "It's ok. I'm gunna go get some food," She smiles, "You coming?"
Olivia smiles back at her, and nods, taking her hand, going into the kitchen with her. She knew it was his job, she understood that. But being on the other side now, she couldn't help but be angry, so angry.
She tried to forget it as they all sat down to eat breakfast, but it was pulled to the front of her mind when her phone rang. She quickly got up so she could grab it from the island, not bothering to look at the caller ID before picking up, asking, "Elliot?"
"No, Liv, it's Don." The voice of the captain said.
"Oh," she sighed, disappointed. "Hey, cap...Merry Christmas," She said, sitting back at the table.
"I would say the same, but what I have to tell you is going to ruin that for you, so I won't bother." Don says next.
"What do you mean, Don?" Olivia asks, suddenly terrified.
"Liv..." He sighs, "Elliot's been shot."
"Liv, you should sit down. Pacing doesn't make anything happen faster," Kathy says an hour later, sitting in the hospital waiting room. They'd all hurried to get dressed, and then had all piled into cars, getting to the hospital as soon as possible.
"I can't," Is all she can mumble. She has to keep moving, she can't just be still. With every beat of her heart, fear was being pumped throughout her body. She was terrified, so so scared she didn't know what to do. They hadn't gotten any news on how severe the gunshot was, nothing. She hadn't even seen Don.
"Mom," was the soft cry that pulled her back to reality. "Mom, he's going to be ok, right?" Ariella cried from where she sat, Taylor trying to comfort her.
Olivia hurried over there, sitting beside her, wrapping her daughter in her arms. "I hope so," She says softly to Ariella, "I hope so, baby. Just...he has to be. He will be." Olivia says, holding Ariella close to her. "He'll be ok."
"Liv!" Don calls, walking into the waiting room from another area, and they all shoot out of their seats.
"Is he ok?" Olivia asks right away, "What the hell happened?"
"They were in the middle of the bust," Don says, "I don't know what happened exactly, but he's got two gunshot wounds, one to the shoulder, one to the leg. The shoulder went through and through, they just had to sew him up, but he had to go into surgery for the leg, to remove the bullet. They'rs sewing him up now, you should be able to see him soon."
"Oh thank God," Olivia sighs, a huge weight lifted, turning to hug Ariella again, who was crying in relief. "He's ok," She promises her, "He's alright."
"Family of Detective Stabler," A nurse calls, coming into the waiting room. "He's just out of surgery, in recovery now. He should wake up from the anesthesia in a few minutes. Immediate family is welcome to go back."
All the kids look to Olivia, even Ariella. "You go," She tells them all, "You go see him. I will after." She says, really just needing time to calm down, so she wouldn't yell at him when he'd just gotten out of surgery. Ariella, Maureen, Kathleen, Lizzie, and Dickie all followed the nurse.
It was a good forty five minutes before they all reappeared, looking relieved and pacified. "He's asking for you," Ariella says to Olivia, who nods in thanks, squeezing her hand, before heading back to the room. She stands at the door to the hospital room, taking it in. He's laying in the hospital bed, monitors tracking everything, but he's awake. He was looking out the window, but looked over briefly, and saw her.
"Hey," He says, smiling, "Come here."
She walks in, over to him, sinking to the edge of the bed, fighting back tears as he takes her hands. "Liv, don't cry," He begs, "I'm fine."
"I...I can't do this," She struggled out, pulling her hands away. "I won't do this, Elliot!"
"What are you talking about?" He asks, confused as to why she's freaking out.
"I won't let you do to me what you did to Kathy, I won't be the wife waiting at home for you!" She exclaims.
"Are you really going to do this, now?" He asks, voice showing anger. "For God's sake, Olivia, you know how it is! You should understand, you know what the job is like!"
"Yes, I know what it's like!" She exclaims, "But now I know what it's like on the other side, too, Elliot! I know what it's like to be told that your fiancee decided to unnecessarily go undercover without a word, without telling you himself. I know what it's like to see my hurt, upset, disappointed daughter who's crying because her father promised her the best Christmas ever, her first real Christmas, but now he won't even be there! I know what it's like to be worried fucking sick, having no information! I...I know the other side, and it's not ok." she said, voice breaking as the tears overflow.
"It was necessary." He said back, stubborn, "Everything having to do with our job is necessary."
"Your job." She says back. "That's not my job anymore. I know you were doing it to help people, but you should have let Fin go, because I know he offered. You should have let Fin go, because you had kids at home, a pregnant fiance. Or, at the very least, you could have called me yourself! You could have told me, because even that would have been better then what happened!"
"So now you're just done with it? Just like that?" He asks.
"Oh my GOD!" She shouted, standing up, "Is that all you care about, Elliot? Yes, ok! I'm done! I'm done because I have a daughter, because in six months I'll have another kid, because I want to be there for them, I want things to be different!" She screams, "You said things would be different. And if they aren't going to be different, then I can't do this, Elliot. I can't let you do that to her, to me. I won't. I love you so much, and I've wanted this for so long, but not like this." She says, crying, sinking back down onto the bed. "I don't want things to be like this for her. I can't do it."
"Don't leave," He says, grabbing her hand again. "Please, Liv, don't leave." He pleads. "I need you."
"I need you too," She cries, "I just need things to be different, too."
"Ok," He says, "I'll work on it, I promise. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, just please don't leave," He says urgently, scared. "We can figure things out. Ok? I love you."
"I love you, too," She cries, leaning down to hug him gently, let herself rest against him as she cried.
"We'll figure things out," He says again, stroking her hair, holding her. "I promise." He says, the urgency never leaving his voice as he held her. He couldn't lose her, not after all they'd been through, after all the time he'd been without her.
He says one more thing, a promise: "I'll do better."