***Please Read***

Here is part 3 of this Series. If you did not read Part 1 (1000 Times) or Part 2 (I Choose you), I highly suggest you go do that and do it in order. Otherwise, parts of the story won't make a lot of sense. This is a continuation of those two tales and you need to understand how they got to where they are now. Plus there are little key phrases etc that are repeated between the three tales that will mean more if you've read all the parts. I will say the plan for this whole part came before I thought up parts 1 and 2.

We are jumping ahead about 4.5 years. Maureen is now 17 (soon to be 18). Kathleen is about to be 15. The twins are 12. Noah is 6 and Sophia Grace is 4. We'll follow the family over the next few years and see what happens. Lots of twists and turns and their biggest test as a family yet. But remember that I always bring EO back together in the end. That's my end goal in every story. Hope you're ready for the ride! There could be some trigger warnings down the road...so just letting that be known now.

Lyrics for "Chasing The Sun" are at the bottom as always. Don't over analyze cuz I know someone will when reading a certain word! Don't panic. That's all I'll say lol. But the lyrics are VERY important.

Disclaimer - I own NOTHING.


Labor Day Weekend.

Elliot always loved Labor Day Weekend. Sometimes it was a little bittersweet coming to the end of another summer. But it always held a certain magic to it. The start of a new school year, the fall creeping into the city, the holidays approaching. He lifted his coffee cup to his lips and inhaled before taking a sip as he looked out over the lake. They had escaped to Maine after a rather busy summer. They wanted to rest up before the chaos of a new school year started.

So much had changed in the last 4 and a ½ years but some things remained the same. His family was wild and wonderful. Six children, one dog and one gorgeous wife. Not a day went by that he didn't think about how fucking lucky he was. It was hard to believe that Maureen was starting her Senior Year of High School. He wasn't fully allowing himself to believe that yet. Kathleen was starting her Sophomore year of High school, the twins were in Middle School. Noah was growing at rapid speed and Sophia...his little spit fire of a daughter kept them on their toes daily.

He smiled to himself when he heard small feet on the wood of the deck behind him. It was early. He'd been up for almost an hour alone but it was clear he wasn't alone anymore. He heard the scraping of the chair against the deck and the little noises she made trying to move it. The chair itself was practically double the size of her. But she wouldn't ask for help. She never did. Stubborn and fiercely independent. Oh yes...she was every bit Olivia Benson's mini me as he could have expected. And God he loved her.

He continued to look out at the lake, a small smile on his face and he waited. He had to have a lot of patience with all these kids, especially this one. "Morning Daddy."

He glanced down at her and smiled, "Morning Fia."

Everyone called her Fia, the name given to her by Noah when she was first norn. Usually only Sophia when she was in trouble...which was more often than not. She was a kid who was curious and wasn't afraid to take risks. Someday he knew she really was going to give him a heart attack. But for now, she was still little, still only making tiny rumblings in the world that gave him anxiety. She looked up at him and smiled, "Can we swim?"

He noticed then she was wearing her bathing suit. Glancing at his watch, the very watch his wife had given him before their wedding, worn over time but still beautiful. Whenever he took it off, he ran his fingers over the etching, Partners for Life, just as his wife did if she had to take off her engagement ring. It was barely 8 am but what Fia wanted, Fia got. He did notice however, her bathing suit was backwards and he had to bite his lip, "Did you dress yourself?"

Sophia shrugged, "Course."

He placed his coffee down and smiled, "Okay. Well...as proud as I am of you. Can I put it on the correct way?"

She shot him a look, hands on hips and her lips pursed, "It's on right Daddy!"

He knew she was going to fight it, she always did, "Baby...it's on backwards."

She looked down at it and shrugged, "I like it this way."

He sighed and shook his head knowing no one else was up or around so it didn't matter. Besides, arguing with her would get him nowhere. For multiple reasons. He smiled, grabbed his bathing suit hanging on the deck and walked towards the house, "Okay. Come here. I need to change first. Don't go anywhere without me, little miss."

She smiled and ran after him, sneaking a piece of fruit as he went towards the bathroom. She pushed boundaries. But for the most part, she abided by the safety rules. She waited patiently, or as patiently as she could. When Elliot was ready, he scooped her up and threw her on his back, "Wait!"

Elliot looked up at her leaning over his head, "What? What'd I forget?" Sophia smiled softly and then he knew, "Oh. Right." He turned his head towards the couch and whistled, "Come on boy."

Scout's ears perked up, his tongue fell from his mouth and then he jumped. Elliot smiled, walked back out the back door with Scout at his heels and Sophia singing a song from way up on his shoulders. He snagged two towels and handed them to his daughter who playfully draped them over his head. She giggled as they walked. And when they reached the edge of the dock, he dipped his toes in, "Ohhhh! Cold this morning!"

Her little feet wiggled, "Come on Daddy! We can jump!"

Elliot carefully lifted her and placed her on the dock, he had to bend down to reach her. She was a tiny little thing but boy was she fierce. "I'm gonna jump in first. Then you can come. Okay?" She nodded excitedly and he ruffled her curls before turning and launching himself into the lake.

"Daddy!" He heard her shriek as he breached the surface and he shivered, "My turn!"

He smiled and swam towards her, "Okay. Come on Fia girl."

Sophia looked at Scout, then launched herself into the air knowing that no matter what, her Dad would always catch her. Her protector. The first man in her life and the most important. Elliot caught her with ease and laughed as Scout jumped over their heads causing a splash. He twirled them around, she was a strong swimmer for her age but he still had no intention of letting her go.

"Daddy?" She asked as he spun her in the water, "Why can't I go to Kindergarten this year?"

He smiled and kissed her cheek, "Because, you aren't five yet. Next year kiddo. Next year. Besides, I'm not ready to let you go just yet."

"Mommy says you'll be worse next year because I'm going to Kindergarten and Mo will go to college. She says you'll have a cora-a cora something." She mumbled.

He chuckled, "She's not wrong." He kissed her cheek, "You're growing up too fast."

She huffed and threw her hands in the air, "If Mommy would stop feeding me vegamatbles, I'd stop growing! But she won't!"

He laughed again at her mispronunciation, "I'll have to talk to her about that."

The young girl smiled, held his face in her hands and said, "Can I fly now?"

He smiled, leaned forward and kissed her nose, "For you? Anything."

He lifted her in the air and moved through the water. High above him she laughed with delight. Scout swam in circles around them always there to jump in if Sophia needed help. They were both so focussed on the task at hand that neither of them noticed the person watching them from the deck.

Olivia had a hand to her lips, a smile covered her face. Her heart beat fast and she thought this is everything. A hand on her back startled her and she saw her oldest daughter. Maureen. "Hey…"

Maureen smiled and looked at her Dad and younger sister, "He's always been a great Dad."

Olivia smiled and wrapped her arm around her, "He has. Hell he'd still do that with you if you let him."

Maureen rolled her eyes, "As if. I'm way too old for that now. Besides, he'd barely be able to lift me. I'm a cow these days."

Olivia frowned, teenagers and body image, "Mo…"

Maureen smiled and shook her head, she squinted her eyes at the scene in front of her and laughed, "She has her bathing suit on backwards."

Olivia looked and then laughed, "Why am I not surprised?"

Maureen squeezed her shoulder, "She is sooo your daughter."

As her oldest started to walk away, she called out to her, "So are you kid."

Maureen's cheeks flushed and she nodded, "Yes. I am."

Leaving her Mother alone with her thoughts, she walked back into the house. Olivia sighed and turned to watch her husband and daughter again. Twirling her wedding ring and engagement ring on her finger she thought Thank God for this life.


Forty minutes later Elliot and Sophia were still swimming and showed no signs of coming in. Scout had abandoned them in search of breakfast and was now curled up at Noah's feet. The sun was high in the sky now and the other kids were eating on the porch. Walking down towards them, she smiled when she heard her daughter laughing.

Stopping on the edge of the dock, she basked in the glow of the love of her life and their youngest child. "Hey, Thing 1 and Thing 2." Both heads turned towards her, "You ever coming out of there?"

Sophia looked down at her Dad, "No."

Elliot chuckled and looked at his wife, "Sorry Liv. She runs the show. You know how it is."

She smirked and turned on her heel, "Alright, then I guess I'll tell Richie and Noah they can have the rest of the chocolate chip pancakes after all."

She heard a gasp behind her and knew what was coming next, "Chocolate?" She heard a splash then, "Daddy put me on the dock!"

Elliot chuckled, "Beat by chocolate again."

Sophia flew past her Mother tugging at her bathing suit that clearly was uncomfortable (though she would never admit it). "Save some for me people! Save some for me!"

Olivia bit her lip and then heard her husband pull himself out of the water and onto the deck. She could just imagine the water glistening against the sun over his muscles. Damn she was lucky. He stood behind her, not daring to get her wet just yet. But he smiled knowing exactly what she was thinking. She sighed, turned towards him and shielded her eyes against the sun so she could get a better look at him in all his glory, "Good morning."

He reached for a towel and rubbed it against his chest, "Morning. You seemed tired this morning. Any particular reason?"

She crossed her arms over her chest and shrugged, "Just typical Mom tiredness."

Elliot smirked and draped the towel on the dock, "Right Mom tiredness. Had nothing to do with the sex marathon we started last night once the kids went down."

She shook her head adamantly, "No. Definitely not the reason."

He chuckled and the sound was deep and low from his chest. He reached out, grabbed her and tugged her to him, "You make me crazy. You know that?"

She shrieked when the water hit her clothes, "Yes. I did know that. In more ways than one."

He growled and lifted her up, "Oh you're in for it now Benson."

She laughed and tried to squirm in his arms immediately realizing her mistake, "Wait! Elliot don't!"

He stepped back and smiled up at her as his left foot hovered above the water, "You jump, I jump."

She smiled and crushed her lips to his as they fell back into the water together. When they broke the surface he wrapped his arms around her tightly so she couldn't escape, "You're the worst."

He kissed her behind her ear and smiled, "The way you say you love me is oh so sweet."

She turned to get a better look at him, "I love you Stabler. God help me but I do."

He went to respond but she lifted her hands and pushed him under the water again. From the deck, the kids watched their parents struggling for power but laughing nonstop.

Kathleen groaned, "Gross. They're so embarrassing."

But Maureen just smiled, "They're in love...always knew they were." She sighed happily and turned towards her siblings, "Let them be."


Later that evening, they were anxiously awaiting the firework show. The neighbors all around the house were gathered at the lake. They had brought out lots of food, afterwards they would make smores and eat other deserts. Having come up to Maine a few years in a row now, they knew many of the people gathered around. The kids were playing down by the water's edge and Elliot never took his eyes off of them.

Walking behind her husband Olivia held out a beer. "Here."

Elliot smiled and took the offering and then looked right back at the kids, "Thanks."

She smiled and kissed him between his shoulder blades, squeezing his biceps, "Protector mode activated, huh?"

He chuckled and moved to wrap his arm around her, "Protector mode is always activated Liv. You know this."

She sighed happily and leaned into his embrace, "True." She smirked and looked over at Kathleen, "Then don't look at your second child. Okay?"

Immediately his eyes moved to the left and he saw Kathleen chatting with one of the neighbor boys. The same boy she had been talking about all week. She flipped her hair, touched his arm and threw her head back and laughed at something he said. Whatever it was, Elliot could bet it wasn't that funny, "Please just shoot me now."

She laughed and kissed his shoulder, "She's about to be 15 hon. It's bound to happen."

He huffed and she physically felt him tense, "I've already had to endure Maureen having a boyfriend. And all things considered...I think I've handled it well. I'm not ready for two daughter's dating."

She bit back a laugh and looked up at him, "Handled it well? Elliot when you met Matt the first time, you cracked your knuckles over and over again. The poor kid cringed every time he heard it. And then you gave him a spiel about having connections in the Queens bureau and all over the State. Poor kid no doubt puked when he got back to his car. It's a miracle he ever came back."

Elliot smiled, "Had to make sure that he knew that even though I work in Manhattan, I know people. People who will watch him. People who will kick his ass if he hurts my daughter. In any way."

She squeezed his hip and nodded, "Well he got the memo. Loud and clear. And when Kathleen starts dating…" He stiffened again and she smiled, "You can give the same speech. Okay?"

"Okay." He sighed heavily and turned to see Lizzie helping Sophia, "Well...at least I still have those two."

Olivia smiled, "Lizzie promised to never date. But…"

He looked down at her and felt his heart jump in his chest, "But what?"

"Sophia and Issac from her pre-k got married on the playground last week. I heard she all but tied him up and forced him. So we're going to have to deal with that…" She smiled.

Elliot dropped his head back and frowned. "She's going to kill me someday. Out of all of them...she will be the one."

"Like Mother, like Daughter." She moved so she could face him, wrapping her arms around his waist, "You knew what you were getting into when you asked me to Marry you. I didn't tie you up...in fact I think you may have been the more forceful one in that situation. So maybe she's got a bit of both of us in her after all. The stubbornness I'd like to argue she gets from both of us." She smiled and touched his face lovingly.

Elliot smiled and held her close, "I think there could be a case for that. But...she gets her independence. Her spunk, her take no prisoners, I run the world attitude from her Momma. And I love her for that. And you."

Olivia turned to look at her daughter again and smiled, "She's definitely something...this new dress herself phase is…"

He laughed when he looked at their youngest in her red pants, white shirt on inside out with a blue tutu to match. Two different shoes and a plethora of necklaces to cover her neck. "It's something…"

She sighed then, turned in his arms again and rested against his check. He held her with one arm and lifted his beer to his lips to take a swig. They stood quietly for a few minutes just watching the scene in front of them. A new school year ahead to bring more chaos, more trials, but also more love and memories with their family. Just as Elliot pressed his lips to the top of her head, the sky lit up and a loud bang sounded. The people all around shrieked with excitement as the show started. Noah and Sophia ran to their parents and Elliot smiled and lifted his daughter up onto her shoulders.

Noah settled in front of his Mother and she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Their four older kids hung with their friends, with each other and watched from afar. Olivia smiled and thought, this is living. Elliot felt his daughter holding on tight but squirming from way up on his shoulders. He heard Noah laughing and talking to his Mom. But his eyes, his eyes were trained on the side of Olivia's face. With each loud firework that popped in the sky, the light lit up the sky, and his wife. Each pull of her lips into a larger smile, each time she laughed, his heart ached with love for her. After all these years, she still made the world stop when he saw her.

She turned then and caught his eye, a laugh escaping her lip. She paused, and her face flushed. Leaning up, she pressed a kiss to the side of his face, "Watch the fireworks El. They're beautiful."

He shook his head and kissed her again, "I've got something much more beautiful to watch. My favorite show. And I never get tired of it."

She leaned against his chest again and sighed, "This life...is a good life El. A damn good life."

He smiled and held onto their daughter, still not looking away from her, "May it always be a damn good life."

She smiled and bit her lip, "Even if it's not...we'll find our way back. We always do." She looked back at him and whispered, "I promised I'd always come back to you El. And I meant that. I still do."


Sunday afternoon, they were down at the lake with the kids. Elliot was in the water with the twins, Noah and Sophia. Olivia sat upon the shore with Kathleen and Maureen. Both of them were buried in their phones which wasn't unusual these days. But Olivia chose to let it go for now. Scout sat at her feet, always watching the activity in the water. He had been in before but needed a break and always retreated back to Olivia when needed.

"Do we really have to go home tomorrow?" Kathleen asked from beside her, "School is so overrated."

Olivia turned and smiled at her, out of the six of them, Kathleen hated school the most even though she was a good student, "Yes. We do. And School is not overrated. It's important."

She sighed and looked over at her sister, "You're so lucky. One more year and then you don't have to go if you don't want to."

Maureen laughed and sat up on the other side of her Mother, "Even if I didn't want to go to college...Dad wouldn't let me skip. He'd give me the 'I didn't go but I'll be damned if my kids skip it' speech."

Kathleen frowned and sat up on the other side of Maureen, "Is that really fair though? Didn't he only not go to college because they got pregnant?"

Kathleen made it a point to never say her Mother's name if she could. Maureen's face flushed and she looked over at her Father. Olivia jumped in quickly, "No. That's not the reason at all. He joined the Marines instead. That was his path."

"Yeah. And then he met that creep Dick." Kathleen shivered, "Doesn't seem like it was worth it."

Olivia sighed, "Kathleen...life throws a lot at us. Good and bad but there are no regrets. Okay? And for the record. You're going to college and you'll love it. I did."

Maureen smiled at her Mother, "I bet you had so much fun in college."

"I did." Olivia said, knocking her knee against hers, "And so will you. Legal, smart, good choice kind of fun."

Kathleen smirked, "That's her way of saying her fun was not legal, smart, not good choice but still wicked fun."

Both girls laughed and Olivia sighed, "You two really are going to kill your Father. You know that? Swift and painfully."

Maureen cleared her throat, "Well since we already know that…"

Olivia looked over at her as Kathleen's phone rang and she moved away from them, "Uh oh…"

Maureen smiled, "What are the chances I can get an hour extension on my curfew?" Olivia started to shake her head, "Just for one night!"

Olivia sighed and look at her, "Mo, I love you. And I trust you. But your Dad is a stickler for the curfew rules. He's going to say no."

"I thought maybe you could soften him up." She cringed, "Wait I didn't mean...although I suppose it would be the opposite of that or-" She hung her head, "I'm going to stop talking. I hate myself right now."

Olivia laughed, "The price you pay for asking for something you know you can't get."

Maureen huffed and lay back on the blanket behind them, "Fine."

Olivia heard the frustration in her voice, she looked out at Elliot and the kids playing in the water still. She turned back to her oldest and stared at her. She was becoming such a young woman. And it was hard to think about what was still to come. Maureen was a good kid. She always had been and she knew she could trust her. Turning towards her again she whispered, "What is the reason that you need an extension?"

Maureen turned her head towards her, "Back to school dance. Matt is the captain of the football team this year...it's a big deal. They're doing a special event for all the Seniors but it goes until 11. Not 10...and I really don't want to miss it."

Olivia nodded slowly, "So it would be a chaperoned event?"

Maureen leaned up on her elbows, "Yes. Totally chaperoned."

Olivia sighed and looked back at Elliot, "I mean...I can try and talk to him about it. But I make no promises."

Maureen sat all the way up, wrapped her arms around her Mother and squeezed tight, "You're the best."

"It will cost you though." She said, giving her an eyeful, "Like watching your siblings tonight so I can take him out to what did you call it...soften him up?"

Maureen growled and lay back again, "This better be worth it."

She smiled and popped her sunglasses on over her eyes, "Yeah. Better be."


That night, Sophia was sitting up on the bed watching Olivia get ready to go out with Elliot. She was always fascinated watching her Mother, especially when she got dressed up. Olivia could see her through the reflection in the mirror. She had chocolate on her face, which wasn't unusual. Turning, she walked over to her daughter and knelt down in front of her. Elliot was coming in the room but stopped in the doorway to watch the scene unfold in front of him. He loved watching the little moments. Those were his favorite. The ones's he'd keep locked away when he needed a reminder on a bad day.

"Momma? Are you going on a date with Daddy?" Sophia asked as Olivia tried to wipe off the chocolate on her cheek.

Olivia smiled, "Yes. Did Kathleen tell you that?"

"She did. She said when you wanna kiss a boy you go on a date. But Daddy won't let her go on a date yet. Think he'll let me go?" She asked with a huff, "I am married now."

Olivia bit down on her lip and smiled, "I heard that. But...unfortunately kiddo. No. He's not going to let you go on a date anytime soon."

Sophia shrugged and looked at her Mom, "Okay. But...when I can go on a date. Will you help me look pretty just like you?"

Olivia opened her mouth to say something but she heard her husband's voice cutting into the silent room, "You are pretty. Just like your Mom. You're her twin." He walked closer to them and lay back on the bed, "Which is why you aren't dating. Ever. Your Daddy couldn't take it."

He lifted Sophia up over his head and she squealed, "Don't worry Daddy. I only love you."

He smiled and looked at his wife then back at her, "Don't love your husband kiddo?"

"I only married him because he has the best snacks." Elliot and Olivia started laughing, "But I don't think it'll last."

Elliot smiled and sat her back on the bed again, "Well...we'll call Aunt Casey and sort this mess out. You'll be a single lady again before you know it."

Sophia smiled and looked at her Mom, "Why'd you marry Daddy?"

Olivia smiled and rested her chin in her hand, "Why'd I marry your Daddy?" She sighed happily and shrugged, "Because he was so handsome." Sophia smiled and Olivia continued, "And because he made me laugh. And he...was kind. He...was my best friend. And I wanted to spend forever with him."

Sophia smiled and then nodded, "Yeah. I don't think those things about Isaac. I just liked his snacks."

Elliot chuckled and Olivia smiled, "You're a piece of work kiddo. You know that?"

"So you tell me." She hopped down off the bed and ran towards the door, "Do we have any more chocolate?"

Olivia giggled and then crawled up on the bed, she pressed her hand against his chest, "How's the old heart? Still ticking? Or did she shatter it again?"

Elliot laughed and pressed a kiss to the top of her head, "She puts a strain on it. That's for damn sure. But...her Mom knows how to fix it everytime."

She smiled and looked up at him, "Ready for date night?"

"Ready for date night." He kissed her again and then moved off the bed, reaching for her, he pulled her up beside him, "And for the record. You're beautiful. You always are."

She winked and took his hand, leading him out of the bedroom, "Flattery will get you everywhere my friend."


Once downstairs, they found the kids settled around the TV trying to decide on a movie. But as usual, the six of them couldn't decide on one they all wanted.

Noah groaned, "If we have to watch The Little Mermaid again...I'm going to scream."

Olivia smiled and leaned down to kiss her son's head, "Fia, sweetie, it's time to let someone else pick the movie."

Sophia stood up, furrowed her brow, put her hands on her hips and stared at her Mom, "No."

Olivia stood up, pressed her hands to her own hips, furrowed her brows and stared back at her daughter, "Yes."

Richie sat up straighter, "Wow...I never saw how much they looked alike until right this very minute. I'm actually terrified."

Elliot smiled, "Yep. You and your sister aren't the only twins in this family."

Sophia stomped her foot, "I want The Little Mermaid!"

Olivia crossed her arms over her chest, "Sophia, you need to be fair. You aren't the only one in this family. Let someone else pick the movie this time."

Sophia turned to look at her Dad, hoping he would take her side but he shook his head, "Fia...listen to your Mom. She's right."

Sophia frowned and looked at her brother, "Fine. You pick." She put her finger in the air and said, "I'll do it, but I'm not happy about it."

Olivia laughed and picked her daughter up, kissing her cheek, "That's my girl." She placed her down on the couch and looked at the rest of her kids, "Mo is in charge. Everyone listen to her. Be good. No funny business. And lights out for the littles by 8:30 please."

"We got it Mom." Noah said with a smile, "We'll be good."

She kissed him again and ruffled his hair, "You always are little man." She looked over at Maureen who gave her a hopeful thumbs up, "Have a good night."

As they walked towards the front door, Elliot leaned into his wife, "What was that look Mo just gave you?"

Olivia smiled and kissed his cheek, "Nothing. Let's go."

He watched her walk towards the car and thought, she's up to something. He smiled and shook his head and followed her. He'd follow her anywhere.


After a romantic dinner, they were walking together along the shore hand in hand. Olivia was talking about something going on at work. But he didn't want to think about their responsibilities. He wanted to be here. Right now. Just them. He tugged on her hand and she stopped, "El?"

He smiled, "No work talk. Okay? Not tonight."

She nodded, understanding that need for distance, "Sorry. It's ingrained in my head sometimes. Hard to get away from it."

Elliot pulled her closer, "I know. I'm not upset. I just want to enjoy some time with you. We'll be back to the real world tomorrow…"

"The real world." She wrapped her arm around his waist, "That real world consists of six kids. All in various stages of life. We need to clear that time off for the college visits. We can't wait too long on that."

"I know." He squeezed her shoulder, "Although...I still think they screwed up and she's only a Junior."

Olivia smiled and knew that what she said next would be harder than she imagined, "El, she's going to be 18 soon."

"Eighteen. Christ." He sighed and shook his head, "Legally an adult. How did that happen?"

"I don't know." She whispered, "But...seeing as she'll be legally an adult soon...I'm thinking we need to evaluate a few things."

Elliot stopped and took a breath, "Here comes the reason for the thumbs up earlier…"

She chuckled and turned to him, "Elliot…"

He sighed and put his hands out in defeat, "Alright. Lay it on me. What's happening now?"

She smiled and reached for his hand, giving it an affectionate squeeze, "She's a smart girl. You know that. Right?"

He growled, "Just rip the bandaid off Liv. Easing into it isn't going to help. Just go for it. What's she want? A tattoo? She knows I got my first one before 18 so I knew that would bite me in the ass someday."

"She wants an extension on her curfew for one night." His head snapped up and she shrugged, "One night El. One night."

"One night." He huffed and kicked at the sand below his feet, "A lot can happen in one night Liv. You know that."

"I know." She walked closer to him again, "I know. But...it's a school event. A big night for Matt. And she wants to be there."

"For Matt." He grimaced and shook his head, "For Matt…"

"El…" She reached for his arm, "I trust her. And so should you."

"I do trust her." He said looking right at her, "I just don't trust the other people. Especially Matt…"

"I understand if you say no. But I did promise her I'd talk to you about it. So we're talking about it." She said with a shrug.

Elliot turned and looked out at the lake, "I just...don't want her to get hurt."

"I know." She whispered, "I know that. But life...has its fair share of pain. Someday she's going to have her first heartbreak. It's inevitable…"

He cleared his throat and looked right at her, "I can't protect her from everything?"

"Sadly...no." She leaned against his side and whispered, "All we can do is make sure she trusts us enough to come to us when she needs us. And support her when she does have that heartbreak." He didn't say anything and her face flushed, "I know technically I'm not her-"

"Stop." He reached for her hand, and squeezed hard, "Don't finish that sentence. You are her Mother Olivia. And you and I make these decisions together." He brushed a strand of hair away from her face and she smiled, feeling relieved, "She's growing up...and you're right. I do need to loosen the reins a bit. Trust her. But...I do need something from you."

She smiled and kissed him softly, "Okay. What's that?"

"I need you to talk me down from the ledge that night she's out later." He whispered, "Because we both know I'm going to be a mad man."

She smiled, wrapped her arms around his waist and squeezed tight, "You got it."

He kissed her forehead and then slipped in beside her again as they walked, "Eighteen...a senior in High School and my youngest is already going through her first divorce." Olivia started to laugh beside him, "It's a wonder I'm not fully gray yet."

She kissed his neck and whispered, "I give it another year. But…" She tilted her head to look at him, "I'll still want you."

Elliot smiled down at her and then looked around, "Beach is pretty empty…"

She smirked and then feigned surprise, "What on Earth are you suggesting Mr. Stabler? I don't know what you've heard about me...but I'm a respectable woman."

"Okay." He bent at the hip, grabbed her around the middle and tossed her over her shoulder, "Then we'll do it in the car instead."

She was howling with laughter as he walked her back to their car and it was the best damn sound he had ever heard.


The following morning, Elliot was up early again this time flanked by both Noah and Sophia as they sat on the dock overlooking the quiet lake. "Daddy can we get a kitten?" Sophia asked.

Elliot chuckled and shook his head, "No way kiddo. I made a deal when we got Scout before you were born, no more fur animals."

Sophia pouted and looked at him, "Not even for me?"

He laughed and tickled her sides, "Not even for you Fia. Not even for you."

"That means he is serious." Noah said with a smile, "If he says no to you...it's pretty serious."

Sophia smiled, "We'll see…."

Elliot smiled and shook his head and turned when he heard footsteps, Richie and Lizzie were walking towards him "Hey. You're up."

Lizzie smiled, "Can we swim one more time before we have to go?"

Elliot smiled at them, "Sure."

Richie grinned at him, "Hey Dad…" Elliot gave him a look, he leaned forward and smacked his shoulder, "You're it."

Elliot smiled and stood up, "Oh you're in for it now."

Lizzie grabbed her sister and watched as the boys all jumped in the water with their clothes on. She looked at her sister, "You want to go in Fia?"

Fia beamed up at her, "Yes!"

And suddenly they were jumping together, Lizzie held her up once they got in the water. Two more splashes came from above their heads as Kathleen and Maureen jumped in. Olivia watched them from the base of the dock, Scout barked at her side, waiting. She smiled and shook her head, "Go on boy. Go on."

Scout took off at a race and threw himself off the dock to meet the kids. They all shrieked with laughter and then Noah turned to see his Mom, "Come on Mom!"

Olivia shook her head, "I'm good right here kiddo. One of us has to be sane."

Elliot looked at his son, "Don't worry. I'll get her." He put his finger to his lips, "Distract her."

He ducked under the water and swam off in the opposite direction. Maureen took charge of Sophia and Noah and waited.

"Oh come on Mom, don't be a party pooper." Richie said with a frown, "Vacation ends today."

She smiled at him, "I can enjoy myself right here."

"Sounds like you're chicken." Richie said and he clucked, "Mom's a chicken."

She opened her mouth to protest when she suddenly felt two arms wrap around her middle. And then she realized she hadn't seen her husband in the water in a minute, "Elliot! No!"

And suddenly he was taking off towards the water again just like yesterday and she was laughing, knowing she should have expected this. Just as he launched them over the edge of the dock she saw the kids all smiling up at her. They crashed against the water, his arms wrapped tightly around her and she squeezed his back. Under the water, she could hear her kids cheering above the surface. Popping back up out of the water, she swam behind Elliot and wrapped her arms around his shoulders and leaned against his back, "Two days in a row? Really?"

He laughed and held her arms closer, "I couldn't resist. You hate me?"

She smiled and pressed her lips to his cheek, "Never El. Never."

And suddenly they were surrounded by the six kids and Scout. The sun was rising higher in the sky, they were together. They were living. Truly living life to the fullest. And for this moment, everything was perfect.


"Chasing the Sun"

It's a really old city

Stuck between the dead and the living

So I thought to myself,

Sitting on a graveyard shelf

As the echo of heartbeats,

From the ground below my feet

Filled a cemetery

In the center of Queens

I started running the maze of

The names and the dates, some

Older than others the skyscrapers, little tombstone brothers

With Manhattan behind her, three million stunning reminders

Built a cemetery

In the center of Queens

You said, remember that life is

Not meant to be wasted

We can always be chasing the sun!

So fill up your lungs and just run

But always be chasing the sun!

So how do you do it,

With just words and just music,

Capture the feeling that my earth is somebody's ceiling

Can I deliver in sound

The weight of the ground

Of a cemetery

In the center of Queens

There's a history through her

Sent to us as a gift from the future

To show us the proof

More than that, it's to dare us to move

And to open our eyes and to learn from the sky

From a cemetery

In the center of Queens

You said, remember that life is

Not meant to be wasted

We can always be chasing the sun!

So fill up your lungs and just run

But always be chasing the sun!

All we can do is try

And live like we're still alive

It's a really old city

Stuck between the dead and the living

So I thought to myself

Sitting on a graveyard shelf

And the gift of my heartbeat sounds like a symphony

Played by a cemetery

in the center of Queens

You said, remember that life is

Not meant to be wasted

We can always be chasing the sun!

So fill up your lungs and just run

But always be chasing the sun!

All we can do is try

And live like we're still alive

All we can do is try

And live like we're still alive