***For Jen, Taylor, Shelby and Victoria. Thanks for bringing me to Twitter, for bringing me into the chat and always encouraging me to keep writing. Liv's reaction to trauma was very much my own reaction to trauma in my life and you helped me write it out. Thanks for being my SUNSHINE on my dark days. Thank you for the book talks, the laughs and helping me find my voice again. This one's for you.***
And here we have it...the epilogue of this tale. The last of this 3 part long story that started as a little tiny idea in February and GREW into so much more. I'm so sad to see it end. But I'm very happy with the conclusion. Just as I hope you are too. We'll get a little glimpse into their future...and where things stand. As promised, always happy EO. Always.
As far as part 4 & 5. I'm not saying yes, I'm not saying no. We'll see how we feel after the end of this chapter? Let me know! IF i do it it will be months away. I have all the ideas. It's just a matter of writing it. And...I have a few different ways I could go. We'll see. Let me know what you think. ;)
Thanks for all the love and support! This one has meant the WORLD to me.
The Following May…
Elliot watched his wife, walking around, talking to their friends and family. Smiling. Living her life. Stronger than she ever had been. She was beautiful. And also so damn adorable in that perfectly tailored suit. As "Best Woman" at Fin and Phoebe's wedding, she had taken the job very seriously. John had married the couple in a small intimate ceremony in the city. The whole family and squad was there to celebrate. He saw Fin and Phoebe say something to her and she smiled, and gave them a little nod. Then she walked to the head table, reached for a glass and tapped it with a fork.
All eyes turned in her direction as they took their spots. Olivia took a deep breath. Public speeches weren't really her thing. But she'd do this, for Fin. He could tell she was anxious though. Her fingers reached for the pendant at her neck, her thumb ran along it and her eyes scanned the room. When they landed on the one person she was looking for, she relaxed and he gave her a wink as he pulled their youngest daughter close.
"Oh behalf of Fin and Phoebe, I wanted to say thank you to all of you for coming today. I was surprised that so many people liked Fin enough to be here…" A laugh echoed through the room, "But then I remembered that most of you are here for Phoebe so it makes sense. I like her best too." She looked at Fin who rolled his eyes, "Just kidding...as his "Best Woman" which...by the way I maintain I should have been given this title years ago…" She flicked her hair behind her shoulder and Elliot chuckled, "Especially having to be stuck working with him and the rest of the idiots in our squad for years. But...I digress. I have known Fin...for enough years. I won't say how long because a lady never reveals her age. But...I've known him long enough to know that he is one of the best men I have ever met. He came onto our team after I worked there. All tough, sure of himself, insisting he wasn't staying long...and here we are...many, many years later and he's still with us. With me. As my partner. And for that...I am incredibly grateful…"
"Mommy's doing great." Sophia whispered to her Dad.
Elliot smiled and kissed her head, never taking his eyes off of his wife, "Yes she is baby."
"But Fin had another partner before me...and I had another before him. Now, while I maintain he is a great partner, one of my best friends. I think...we would both agree that our best partners...are now...our spouses." Fin smiled and she looked over at Elliot who's face flushed, she winked at him, "Fin and Phoebe were each other's first partners years ago. And a partnership...is a lot like a marriage. You fight...you make up...but at the end of the day, you always have each other's backs, and if you had to, you'd take a bullet for each other. A bond like that...well it never goes away. In a partnership...you have to learn to trust one another. Completely...with your life. It's not something that should be taken lightly. Fin and Phoebe…" She took a deep breath and looked at them, "Fin and Phoebe trusted each other. And though...they lost each other for a while. They found their way back to each other. And that is what a good partnership is about...finding your way back to each other even on your hardest days. On the days when you want to give up."
She took a rattling breath, and looked down at her rings, spinning them on her finger. She closed her eyes for a moment, let the breeze wash over her and then she continued, "Phoebe and Fin...have been there for me. For my family…" Her voice cracked, "During our darkest days. Phoebe even gave up her fiance less than 24 hours after he proposed to let him bring me back to my family. And so...I want to tell you both that I am grateful to know you. Honored that you asked me to stand here beside you today. And to let you know that on your hardest days, I will remind you what you have to fight for. And that life...was not meant to be wasted. Take your time, laugh, cry, fight, because fighting proves that what you have is worth it. And what you have...what the two of you have is so worth it. It's rare. And it's beautiful, so hold onto it. And don't ever let it go…"
She saw many of the people in the room crying and she smiled, "I would also like to take this moment to publicly check in on John Munch…" All eyes turned to the man in the corner wiping at his eyes, "We all know you were expecting the partner he married to be you...but...if I had to choose between the two of you...Phoebe's a little prettier. So…" The room shook with laughter again and she was glad to have brought them back to happiness, lifting her glass she smiled, "To Phoebe and Fin. And...to partners."
"To partners." Everyone said, but her eyes were locked with Elliot's only, knowing he had heard everything she had said and understood. He always did.
A few hours later, she stood looking at her friends and family, dancing, laughing, celebrating as the wedding began to wind down. She felt so grateful. To be here. Right here. Witnessing this.
She was distracted from her thoughts when she saw him moving towards her. She smiled as he held out his coat, "Here you go."
She smiled and turned to let him place his coat over her shoulders, knowing she was cold. He always knew. "Thank you." She reached over to the balcony and picked up a wine glass, "And I got this for you."
"Thank you." He took a sip and then looked over at Phoebe and Fin dancing out on the dance floor, "They're a good looking couple."
She smiled and leaned against the wall, rolling her glass between her fingers, "They are. But...I think we give them a run for their money." He looked over at her and smiled as she took a sip of her wine, "At least I do...cuz out of the two of us...I look damn good in a suit."
He threw his head back and laughed, "You're a piece of work…"
She smiled, reached out and pulled him closer by his tie, "Yeah...but I'm your piece of work."
He sighed and kissed her gently, "Yes you are. And thank God for that."
She kissed him softly and looked out at the kids, "I can't even believe that Sophia is still standing. She barely slept a wink last night. She was so excited about being flower girl."
"She had four pieces of cake. So...I'm sure the sugar crash will come soon." He heard her laugh and he looked over at her with a soft expression, "Your speech…"
Tears welled in her eyes and she smiled, "I meant every word El."
He took a deep breath and placed his wine down, "Still don't regret it? Taking that jump from partners to…"
"Partners…" She finished for him, he looked over at her, "We're still partners El. We always have been. Even more so now….I'd still take a bullet for you if I had too."
He groaned and looked at her hopefully, "So would I...but let's try and make sure we don't have to do that okay?"
She nodded slowly and slid in closer to him, "Okay…I think that's probably a good idea." She smiled, "Besides...we have way too much to live for…"
He smiled at her and pulled something from his pocket, "Yes...we definitely do."
She turned to look at him and saw that he was holding two plane tickets, "El?"
He smiled and handed them to her, "I made a promise last year...that if you kept kicking ass, kept fighting to come home, that I'd take you back to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary. And you did just that...and so much more. So...what do you say Benson? Up for a little skinny dipping with your husband again?"
"Elliot…" She looked down at the tickets in disbelief, "You're serious?"
He smiled and tilted her face up towards him, needing to see her eyes, "I'm serious. I...I can't think of a better way to celebrate our 10 years together. All the twists and turns...all leading us back to right where we started. Where we took that first jump. And if I had to do it again and again...I'd jump. With you Liv. You and only you until my last day."
She wiped at the tears in her eyes and she whispered, "Well Damn Stabler...you're good. You're really good." She sighed and wrapped her arms around his waist, "How are you mine?"
He smiled and touched her cheek, "You loved me Liv. You loved me when I didn't love myself."
Leaning forward, she kissed him gently as a song came through the speakers loud and clear. They pulled away to see the kids waiting for them on the dance floor, she looked at her husband, "It is our song…"
He smiled as she walked backwards, pulling him along with her. She could lead him anywhere and he'd follow. Over any mountain, through any valley, across any river, there was nothing that could keep them apart. Keep this family apart. And when he danced with their children on the roof, with his wife, he knew more than ever that this was forever. No matter what happened next.
June - Hawaii - Their 10th Anniversary
Lying on a blanket in the warm sun, Olivia sighed and stretched out. Her feet touched the sand at the edge of the blanket. This all felt so familiar. Yes she was older, yes she was maybe wiser, yes she had changed. In more ways than one. Her hands moved across her abdomen, she was wearing a bikini though she had hesitated but he insisted. Her fingers traced the line, the scar she would carry with her forever. But instead of feeling weak, she saw it as a badge of honor, an armor she could use to fight off any other battle that came their way. And if that armor wasn't strong enough...well she always had an army to fight along with her.
That army was led by her husband. She started laughing when she felt him standing in front of her. Just like he had done ten years ago. She felt a drip of water fall to her ankle and she jumped, "Elliot!"
He smirked and reached over her to grab a towel, causing more water to fall down on her, "You looked hot. Just trying to cool you down."
She slapped his leg as he lay down beside her, "I looked hot?"
"You always look hot." He said moving towards her to kiss her lips.
She sighed and turned to face him, "Is that so?"
"Uh huh." He leaned forward and kissed her harder, "My badass wife is sexy as all hell. Especially now that she's Sergeant."
She rolled her eyes and pushed him away, "We don't even know if I passed the exam yet El. Stop."
He chuckled and lay down on his back, "Please, when have you ever failed a test in your life Benson?"
He made a good point, "True...but to be fair. You took the test too. Sergeant Stabler of the Organized Crime Unit has a nice ring to it."
He had left SVU a few months after the trial, being offered a position in a new Unit. And in order for them to both climb in ranks, it was necessary. While it had been hard, they were stronger than ever and knew they could handle it. They made time for their family, and always for each other. Maureen was back at school, thriving not only academically but in her relationship with Owen. Kathleen would be attending Hudson in the fall and was doing better than ever. The Twins had finished their first year of High school and Noah and Sophia were heading to Second and Fourth Grade. And old Scout, was nine now, but still hanging in. Always at their sides. Things were changing. They were growing. And while it was hard to not want things to slow down, they both also knew that it was a good thing. It meant they were still here...still alive. And they had vowed to live while they were still alive knowing how quickly it could all be taken away.
She was broken from her thoughts when she felt him brush back a strand of her dark hair, "Liv?"
She smiled and leaned into his touch, "Yeah?"
"Cragen's older than my boss which means you'll probably make Captain before me." She was frowning, "And I gotta tell you...that will be really hot when you order me around in bed and I can call you Captain."
She started to laugh, really laugh, and God it felt good. Even a year later, it still felt so damn good to laugh. It felt even better to be lying here with him. He rolled over her and smiled down at her, "Yes Captain. I'll do whatever you want, Captain. Please Captain touch me there-"
"Stop!" Tears streamed down her cheeks as she laughed, "You're insane!"
He laughed, "You know you like it. My woman likes to take charge…"
"Your woman…" She sighed and he pinned her arms above her head, "So possessive."
He raised an eyebrow and touched his lips to her neck, "Hm...I seem to remember that you told me you like it when I get possessive. Prove that you're mine."
Her body reacted as it always did. Arching up into him, she sighed as his lips trailed across her collarbone, "God help me I do…"
When his teeth graced the sensitive spot below her ear, she shivered and he smiled, "It's a good thing we splurged on the private cabana and beach again."
His hand slid up behind her and tugged at the strings of her bikini top, "Mmmm…" She shifted, and his grip on her wrists lessened making her able to get away from him.
She shoved hard on his chest and he fell back on the blanket with a huff, "Liv…"
Standing up, she pulled at the strings again and tossed the black bikini top at him, "It is nice...but sand...isn't romantic. Not when we have a really comfortable bed waiting inside."
The smile on his face grew and he rolled over, crawling towards her. She shrieked when he pushed himself up off the sand and ran towards her. He lifted her, tossed her over his shoulder and walked towards the cabana. Her laugh, his favorite sound. The sound that he had missed on those dark days. The sound that was better than oxygen to him, the thing that kept him moving, living, believing. Kicking the screen door open, he moved them to the bed and tossed her down, she bounced slightly and smiled up at him, "Whatever are you going to do with me, Sergeant Stabler?"
He sighed, pushed at the bathing suit he was wearing and reached for her, tugging her to the edge of the bed, "Prove that you are mine and mine alone."
She gripped the sheets as he slipped his fingers under the strap of her bikini bottoms and started to tug, "Elliot...you have nothing to prove. Trust me when I say I am yours. And only yours."
He tossed her bottoms to the side, never taking his eyes off of her. He reached for her hand and rolled her rings on her finger, "And you have been...for ten years now."
She shook her head, pulled his hand towards her until he was lying over her, holding himself up on his forearms, "Elliot...I have been yours much longer than ten years." He smiled softly, "I have been yours since the first day I met you in the Precinct. I may have tried to deny it...but I've been yours. And I will always be yours."
He stared down at her and smiled, "I think I've always been yours Liv. Long before we even met...like I was put on this earth just so that I could cross paths with you. To build this life, with you. I am yours," He took her hand and kissed her rings, "And you are mine. Forever."
"Forever." She smiled and pulled his face closer to kiss, "But...I think we'll take this to the afterlife babe."
It was his turn to laugh hard as his hands trailed down her abdomen, and between her thighs, "Babe...geez she is feisty today."
"I told you years ago...I can call you whatever I want." Her breath caught in her throat as he pressed two fingers into her, "That will be especially true when I am Captain."
He smirked and curled his fingers inside of her, "Yes Captain…"
"Fuck." Her hand gripped his arm and she smiled, "You know we could both end up being Captains...and then I can say-" He pushed his fingers harder and she gasped, "Right, there Captain."
"Oh this is gonna be fun…" He said with a satisfied smile.
She smirked and pushed him back, he stumbled and she stood up, "Yeah. It is."
She grabbed him again, pulled him in for a kiss and then turned them so his back was to the mattress. She pushed him down into a sitting position and he smiled up at her, never letting his eyes leave hers. Kissing a trail across her chest, he pressed his lips to her scar. Just like he always did. A reminder that they were here. A reminder that he thought she was the most beautiful thing in the world. Pressing her knees into the mattress on either side of him she straddled his waist, and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, "Hey El?"
He sighed as she settled over him, feeling himself fill her, "Yeah?"
Touching his cheek she smiled, "Thank you, for this life. For the good, the bad and everything in between. I wouldn't trade it for the world."
One hand held her face and the other settled at her hip, helping her rock against him, "Neither would I Liv. Neither would I."
She moved slowly, but with purpose, her hips rolling but their lips didn't leave each other until she had to pull away to cry out to him, "Elliot…"
He smiled and moved his hand from her face, to her collar bone, tracing down her chest and cupping her breast, "God you are so beautiful."
She bit down hard on her lip and smiled at him through heavy lids, wishing she could stare at him like this forever. She wished she could bottle this up and keep it in her pocket, for whenever life threw something else in their path so she could remember what she had to lose. But then she realized she could never forget this even if she tried. He was ingrained in her, just like the markings on her ring and his watch, Partner's for Life.
Partners in every sense of the word. Through the good. Through the bad. Through the things that threatened to tear them apart. And that was proof that nothing could ever tear them apart. Because they wouldn't let it. He rolled her over and she smiled, letting him kiss his way lower and lower, "What are you doing?"
He sighed and knelt down on the floor and parted her legs, "Loving my wife."
She gasped when his lips wrapped around her clit and she gripped the sheets beside her, "Oh...then by all means continue."
He smiled up at her and said, "I plan on it."
Her eyes fluttered shut and her legs draped over his shoulder, his arms slid under her thighs and pulled her even closer causing her to moan loudly. "Elliot...jesus…"
He smiled against her heated flesh. Since their reunion, they had taken it slowly at first. Learning what she was comfortable with, what she could handle. And little by little her walls came down, and she let him in more. And now, now they were here and all her inhibitions were gone. She trusted him with her life, her body and her heart. His lips and his tongue never stopped moving, following the lead of the sounds she made, the way her body moved. And before she knew what was happening, her toes curled and her thighs held him tighter to her and he smiled, knowing she was right on the brink. Sliding two fingers inside of her, he pumped hard along with the movements of his tongue. She reached for him and his hand squeezed tight around hers, "Let go Liv. I got you…"
She cried out as the world around her shattered, she came hard and fast with trembling legs, her heart pounding against her chest. He moved slowly then, trailing kisses back up her body and she sighed, feeling a bead of sweat slide down her side. His lips touched her scar, then back up to her chest, right above her heart, "God you're good at that…"
He laughed and kissed her neck and then up to her lips, "No complaints? No suggestions for improvement?"
She sighed and her eyes fluttered open, "Any better and you might kill me Stabler."
"Well I don't want that." He whispered, brushing her hair away from her neck, "I think I'd like to keep you."
She smiled, scooted back on the bed and he crawled over her, "Good. I'm planning on sticking around for at least another ten years. Then we can discuss if I want to resign this contract."
He smiled and settled in between her legs, instantly finding his place. He sighed and she smiled that smile of hers that still made him weak, the one that made him wonder how he'd gotten lucky enough to have her as his wife, "How are you mine?" He asked.
The very thing he'd asked her on their wedding night and she smiled, moving with him, "Because you loved me even when I didn't love myself El."
He kept his eyes on hers, and rocked his hips back and forth, she met him thrust for thrust. Just like she always did. She wrapped herself around him, pulling him closer still. Over and over he filled her and tears welled up in her eyes feeling so much love and gratitude course through her body. She clung to him, like she never wanted to let go and she realized then, she never had too. Threading their fingers together, he squeezed tight, smiled and whispered, "I'm really glad I married you."
Her cheeks flushed and she sighed, "You have no idea how glad I am that I married you Stabler. No idea."
His smile grew but he leaned down to kiss her, just as that feeling began to pull at them both. Her nails dug into his back and her breathing got more shallow. And then they were both rising, together, always together. And when they came down, he kissed her face again, her neck, her collarbone and chest, resting against her heart. Feeling it beat against her ribs, against his lips like a song, his favorite song. He sighed, and rested his head against it, her fingers ran along the nape of his neck and he sighed, "Thank God you're alive…"
She took a rattling breath and slowly lifted his face to hers, "El…"
He moved to lay beside her, and gathered her in his arms, "Thank God...you're alive."
She smiled, and tucked herself against him and whispered into his neck, "We're both alive El. We're both alive and all we need to do is live this life while we can." She smiled and pressed her lips to his chin, "Life was not meant to be wasted. And this...this is a damn good life."
On the last day of their trip, they were walking along the island. A familiar path. Neither one of them said anything. But he laughed when he felt her moving faster. He looked over at her and pretended to groan, "Liv we're on vacation."
Turning to face him she smirked, "Afraid to lose to your wife Stabler?"
Elliot stopped and watched her, how she infuriated him sometimes. And yet, she always made life interesting. Crouching forward slightly he asked, "First one to the top?"
"Wins…?" She asked with a curious grin as she bounced on her toes.
"Wins the argument about who gets the new car or not…" He challenged and she took off before he could finish his sentence.
He laughed harder, knowing he didn't stand a chance in catching her. But it didn't matter. He'd run after her anyday. When they reached the top, she cheered triumphantly, "Yes! We're hitting the dealership when we get home baby. I win again!"
He took a deep breath, pressing his hand into his side, he couldn't help but tease her a little, "How do you know I didn't let you win?"
She rolled her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck, "In your dreams. You will never beat me and you know it."
He snorted and smacked her ass, "Maybe I just like watching you run in shorts…"
Tossing her head back she laughed loudly, "Oh that's why I won?"
"You distract me." He growled against her neck, "It's not fair actually."
"Life's not fair. Get over it." She teased before hearing a splash behind them.
Her eyes lit up, and he knew what she was thinking. "Liv…"
She took his hand and led him down the path, the same one they had taken ten years earlier. When she had been too afraid at first only to drag him back a few days later. Ready to take the plunge. Ready to face her fears. Ready to take on whatever the world had to offer. Neither of them could have predicted the journey that would unfold over the ten years since that day. But all in all, it had led them right back here and for that, they were grateful.
When they got to the edge, she peered down and she was reminded of how steep the jump actually was. But then again, the last ten years had been scarier than this in a lot of ways and they had survived. Elliot squeezed her hand, and she looked over at him. He was giving her a look that told her that if she wanted to back out, he would never judge her for it. "You jump, I jump?" She asked softly.
"You jump, I jump." He said, squeezing her hand again.
Taking a deep breath, she looked down at the water below her and whispered, "One."
"Two." He replied back to her as they got even closer to the edge.
"Three." They said together and immediately launched themselves off the edge of the cliff and were free falling.
The minute they broke the surface, Olivia felt a rush of emotions wash over her. When she popped back up, she was laughing. She felt Elliot's arms wrap around her and she turned in his embrace. He was smiling proudly at her and she felt her heart jump in her chest. He was still the man she trusted most in this world. The person she wanted to spend forever with. Face the good, the bad, the terrifying and everything in between with. Kissing him softly she was so damn glad she had taken the jump all those years ago...
5 years later…
Elliot stood at the back of the church listening to the hustle and bustle around him. The music was playing, signaling it was almost time. His heart was beating out of his chest. This was one of those moments he had been dreading for years. A moment he wasn't sure he was ready to face. But...he didn't really have a choice.
Taking a deep breath, he looked up and relaxed slightly when he saw her. Walking towards him, she touched his arm, "You okay there Dad?"
He let out a little breath and shook his head, "No. Not really."
She nodded slowly, leaned in and kissed his check, "It's not goodbye...not really."
"Good." He whispered, "I'm not good at goodbyes."
"I'll meet you up front? Okay. Just...remember to breathe." She whispered, "Just remember to breathe…"
She turned then and walked away and his heart started beating faster again. Kathleen, Lizzie and Sophia walked ahead of them one at a time. And he tried to remember that not all change was bad. A hand slipped into his, and he turned, she looked beautiful, "Hey Dad."
He squeezed back, "Hey kid…"
She moved her hand to loop through his, "Let's do this...together. That way it's not so scary."
He laughed and put his hand over hers against his bicep, "Okay. That works. I think I'm gonna need you to take the first step though. Otherwise we'll be standing here all night."
"Okay." She raised an eyebrow and smiled, "Let's go…"
They started moving then, slowly but surely and he couldn't keep his eyes off of her. The other people didn't matter. He had one goal. One purpose. He saw the years flash before his eyes. Every single moment. The good and the bad. The tears, the laughs, the times she drove him crazy. He'd give anything to live it all again. Even just for five more minutes. Five more minutes of what it had been…
But they were here now. And he couldn't change it. When they got to the end of the altar, he took a deep breath and looked at her, "You can let go now Dad…"
Elliot smiled sadly, pulled her close and held on tight, "No. I can't ever let go, kid. Not ever."
She smiled and squeezed him tight, "I was hoping you'd say that." When he pulled away she said, "I love you Dad. Thanks for…" She laughed and shrugged, "Everything."
"I love you too. Go make me proud." He nudged gently knowing if he didn't he'd pull her back and truly never let go.
Turning, he shook hands with the man at his right and then moved to sit down in the front aisle. A hand slipped into his and squeezed tight, "Liv…"
She took a deep breath, looked at Owen and Maureen turning to one another other, ready to commit themselves to each other, just as they had done all those years ago. And it was bittersweet, yet so damn beautiful. It was exactly the way it was all meant to be. She looked at her husband then and he looked back, "And there she goes…" She whispered.
He nodded slowly, moved his hand away from hers and wrapped his arm around her tight, pulling her against him. He looked back at his oldest daughter, and the man she had chosen, who she'd choose 1000 times just as he would choose this woman beside him. "And there she goes…"
Life was not meant to be wasted...and as a family they had not wasted a single minute. Even on the dark days, they had found a way to chase the sun. To find their way back to the light. And they always would.