Because

Epilogue

A/N: Hey, remember this story? LOL. So I promised that I'd finish it before Christmas 2006 and I know I'm cutting it a little close but… Anyway, I hope you all enjoy and as always, please review.

SIX MONTHS LATER

"It is the ruling of this court that from this day forward, Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler shall be the lawful parents of Hope Marie Stabler." The judge bangs his gavel and the courtroom erupts into a sea of hugging and shouts of 'Congratulations'.

Elliot looks to his right at the woman who only two months before had agreed to be his wife. In her arms is the toddler who has so quickly captured his heart. Her curly blonde hair is adorned with a pink bow and she looks to him like a little angel in her powder blue dress. He leans forward and gives Olivia a gentle kiss on the lips "Congratulations mom," he whispers with a smile.

She returns his smile "Same to you dad."

Hope begins to fuss in her mother's arms "Daddy," she says as she wiggles free and Elliot scoops her into a hug. She had been referring to him and Olivia as 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' for months now but today it is official.

They head out of the courthouse and into the warm early summer day. Somehow, the light seems brighter now. The New York air seems just a little fresher today. Elliot opens the door to the back seat of the car and straps Hope into her car seat. He places a kiss on her forehead "I love you baby girl," he whispers.

"Love you too Daddy," Hope says through a yawn. It has been a long day for the twenty month old and all she wants right now is to go to sleep.

"I think she's gonna want this," Olivia says as she pokes her head in the car "Here you go sweetie," she smiles gently at her daughter as she hands her the yellow stuffed rabit that Uncle Munch had given her all those months ago in the hospital.

"Bun Bun," Hope smiles sleepily as she takes the toy from her mother and holds it close.

Olivia slides into the passenger's side of the car and Elliot begins the drive to their house. After a couple of minutes, Hope is out like a light in the back seat. Olivia turns to Elliot "Have I told you today that I love you?" she asks.

"Yes," he grins "But I never get tired of hearing you say it."

Olivia smiles warmly at her husband "I love you," she says softly.

"I love you more," he returns playfully.

"I don't think you could," she responds in a back and forth that they have perfected over the months "It's impossible for you to love me more than I love you."

"Really?" Elliot asks with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah," Olivia flashes him a grin reserved solely for him. After all this time, they have settled into their new lives and find them much more satisfying than their old ones.

Cragen has pulled innumerable strings for them to remain partners and there isn't a day that goes by that Elliot and Olivia don't thank him for it. But infinitely more fulfilling than the job, is the little girl who snores softly in the back seat of their car as they drive home. Olivia never knew that she could love motherhood so much and even though Elliot had been a father long before they ever knew Hope, every day is a new adventure for him as well.

They reach the apartment building and Elliot pulls into a parking space. Olivia gets out of the car and as smoothly and quietly as she can, so as not to wake her, she lifts Hope from the car seat. The little girl stirs "Mommy," she moans softly against Olivia's neck.

"Shhh," Olivia rubs a hand over Hope's tiny back "We're home sweetie," she smiles at Elliot as they pass through the elevator doors "We're home."

A/N: Okay, probably one of the shortest epilogues ever and I'm sorry but like I said, I'm cutting it close on my deadline. I might write a sequel somewhere down the line but it'll have to wait until I've finished some of my other stories. If I do write a sequel, I'll probably write it in past tense instead of present because writing in present tense is what made this story hard for me to continue. I hope you enjoyed this story.