She's purposely gotten up as early as she could. The moment the sun started to peek into their room, she'd stealthily wiggled her way out of Elliot's possessive embrace, and given him a tender kiss on his mouth and smiled down at him as he slept. He's revived her again and she feels an overwhelming peace this morning. He's held her through the night and they simply slept. They slept with a little boy just beyond the way and when he'd fussed, she'd gotten up to feed him, to tend to his needs, and found herself back in her husband's arms.
She'd stayed there and felt his pulse against her lips as she rested against his body. How he'd gotten her back into their bed she didn't know, but what she did know what that she'd slept peacefully. She kissed his mouth again and ran her hand over his beard, "I love you," she whispered and slipped quietly out of bed.
Hannah hadn't been in her bed and it terrified her at first. She'd ripped the comforter back and saw the pink Barbie sheets and Mr. Uno and she felt her stomach jump into her throat but as the panic spread from the very center of her being and the heat rushed through her body, she heard a small sniffle from the kids' bathroom and she immediately recognized it as he daughter's.
Olivia was in the threshold of the bathroom within seconds, her hand instantly turning the light switch that her daughter couldn't reach, on. Hannah had jumped at the sudden illumination of the room and she looked up at her mother with tears in her eyes, her small hands frozen on the zipper of her one-piece pajamas.
"Hannah-girl?" Olivia whispered softly and immediately closed the distance between them. She kneeled in front of her daughter whose cheeks were flush and stained with hot tears.
"Potty in my jammies, Mommy," she cried, her hands still not moving from the zipper.
Olivia smiled sweetly and rested her hands on her daughter's, "It's okay, pumpkin. It's okay you wet the bed, you're still learning."
Hannah's chin quivered and her brunette hair bounced as she frantically shook her head in innocent disagreement, "Not da bed, Mommy. My jammies. It browken," she cried and took a step closer to her mother, "I sowry."
It occurred to her that it was very possible that Hannah may have learned a life lesson when she saw her spank Solomon.
Don't wet yourself. Ever. Because Mommy will lose her mind.
"Don't be," Olivia assured her and gently ran her hand through her daughter's hair, a small lingering kiss on her temple. "You didn't do anything wrong, pumpkin… your zipper got stuck," she said and gently tugged on the zipper until it was free. "Want a bath, baby?"
"Coldies, Mommy," Hannah said sadly and hugged her body as her skin produced goose bumps.
"Okay," Olivia nodded in understanding and gently helped her daughter with her panties before picking her up to stand on the counter. "Quick wash," Olivia told her and helped her hang on for balance as she ran the sink water to warm and helped clean her daughter.
"Mommy?" Hannah whispered as her mother cleaned her body with a warm washcloth.
"Yeah baby?" Olivia whispered, matching her tone to her daughter's as she rang the cloth out and grabbed a towel.
"You gonna hold me 'dis mornin'?" she asked and shuddered as her mother wrapped her in a large towel and held her close.
"I woke up super early, just to spend time with you, Hannah-girl," Olivia assured her as they walked back into Hannah's room and Olivia sat softly with her daughter in the rocking chair and tucked the towel tighter around her body. "Why didn't you wake me, baby?"
Hannah nestled closer to her mother, her lashes fluttering against her skin as she whispers to her mother, "I big girl. I go potty but zippie brwoken."
Olivia smiled and kissed the crown of her daughter's head, "Those darn zippies," she said softly and continued to rock her gently. "I love you, Monster-Girl."
"You get me kitty?" Hannah whispered sleepily.
Olivia rolled her eyes in playfulness and stroked her daughter's back through the terry cloth towel, "The kitty will be eaten baby, but… I'll tell you a story."
Hannah giggled and her arms tightened around her mother's neck, "Tell me, mommy!"
Olivia chuckled at her daughter's eagerness and held her close, "There once was a queen-"
"Was her purdy like yous?" Hannah asked.
Olivia smirked, "Yeah, pretty like me… but… she had an ugly, ugly secret."
Olivia continued to rock her daughter with a small smile on her face, "Yeah, she had a big uh-oh one day when the King found out her secret-"
"Shhh," Olivia chuckled softly and stroked her hair tenderly, "Listen to the story, baby."
She giggled against her mother again, "More rockies. More story!"
"Okay," she agrees and continues. "The queen thought that the king was gonna be super mad at her."
"But hims luves her and him not never mad at her," the toddler insisted.
Olivia took this into consideration. Elliot, even in this midst of his hurting and frustration and their yelling matches… he'd never once so much as inferred that what had happened all those years ago with her brother was her fault. He never once so much as leaned to the side that could indicate he thought she should have gotten better faster or that she was weak for letting her past infiltrate their marriage.
"He loves his queen so much," Olivia assured her. "He loves her so much that he fought against evil ghosts and bad men and-"
"He winded dem?" Hannah whispered and sunk tiredly into her mother's body.
Olivia grinned, "Yeah, the King won. He sent the bad men far, far away from his queen and-"
"Made her supers happies," Hannah muttered.
Olivia nodded gently against her daughter and gave her a kiss before standing with her in her arms, "The king made the queen so happy, baby. So happy."
"Mommy, wat'were da secret?" Hannah asked softly as Olivia walked with her to the master bedroom.
Olivia gently placed Hannah's towel wrapped body next to her sleeping husband whose arms instantly wrapped around her and adjusted the comforter over her. "That the queen wasn't as strong as she seemed."
"But her was," Hannah insisted and snuggled against her father, "Da king jus hada proof it."
"Wha'we makin' Mommer?" Solomon asked as he sat on the kitchen counter, his mother's arm trapping him for safety.
"How do eggs sound?" she suggested. "I'll let you crack'em."
Solomon giggled on the counter as he raised his foot to his thigh to play with his pudgy foot, "Dat yuckies! Cakes! We makes cakes!"
"Pancakes," Olivia laughed, "how can I help you be a chef if you only want to make pancakes?"
He giggled and pressed his foot into her mid drift, his toes digging in to tickle her, "Fru'loops?"
"Fruit loops for Saturday breakfast?"
"An'cakes," he smiled up at her again and reached up to wrap his arms around her neck and stand on the counter top. "Pweeeze, Mommer? You's so purdy, Mommer."
She grinned showing a full row of perfect teeth, "How about French toast?"
He rested his forehead against hers and crossed his eyes to see his mother's, "We makes a mess?"
"A big one," she assured him.
He giggled in sheer glee and stomped his bare feet on the counter top, "Yeah!"
"Clothes!" Olivia announced loudly the moment her five-year-old wandered into the kitchen stark naked.
"Ah, Mama," Isaac huffed and leaned up against his mother's leg as she handed Solomon a stack of napkins and directed him to the table.
"Don't you ah, Mama, me, young man," she smiled down at her son, her hand running over his blond hair. "You're gonna get sick… go get some clothes on. Now."
"But-" he started to huff when Sam's voice cut in suddenly.
"Dude! Just do it, man. No one wants to see butt cheeks!"
"Hey! You can't see my cheeks!" Isaac snapped back and held tighter to him mother's leg.
"Isaac!" Olivia chided, "There's your warning."
"Hey," Isaac looked up at his mother in pure indignation, "wha'bout my one and two?"
"Not for something like that. Be a big boy, Isaac, Sam didn't do anything to you. You woke up grumpy. Go put your pajamas back on and go back to sleep for a while."
"He started it," Isaac muttered and buried his face in his mother's leg. Most of the time he was independent then there were these few and far between moments of insecurity and clinginess that while Olivia loved that he was close, there was no way he would be permitted to fire off such caustic remarks.
"You're right," Sam chuckled, "I can't see your cheeks, and you have no idea how thankful I am for that, dude…. Go get your clothes on."
"No," Isaac whined into his mother's leg, "Mommy, I'm grumpy," he cried and butted his head against her leg as Solomon finished placing the napkins randomly on the table, barely tall enough to reach let alone have accurate placement.
"Broder!" Solomon grinned as he spotted Isaac for the first time and instantly ran to him enveloping him in a hug against their mother. "How comes you naked? Sissy gonna be up too."
"He's a flasher," Sam informed his little brother as he felt along the counter and reached out for his mother. A morning kiss on her cheek, "You smell nice, Mom."
Olivia took Solomon's words into consideration. She tried not to dwell on it, to put them in back of her mind and vow that she'd never strike their children again, no matter what the provocation. "Well, you know," she stretched for a chuckle, "A shower once a week does the trick."
"Gross mom," Sam smiled and kissed her again, "I love you, Mom."
Olivia smiled brightly and hooked her hand around his neck, she brought him close to her to lean her forehead against his, "I love you… it's Saturday, you know?"
Sam chuckled, "Yeah, so?"
"So?" she feigned a bit of hurt. "Did you forget that you and I walk on Saturdays?"
He took a deep breath and exhaled it over her face as he pulled away and frowned. "I never forgot," he whispered sadly. "I…I thought you did, though"
Olivia cupped his cheek softly and kissed his temple as Isaac cried against her leg, "I never forgot, son. Never. Just had to get some stuff right."
"Come on broder!" Solomon said excitedly as he pulled on his Isaac's arm, "Come on. Gonna get sickies, broder," he told him as he pulled again at his arm and finally got a very grumpy Isaac to follow him to the boys' room even as he cried and wailed and carried on.
"Mom?" Sam said softly as Isaac and Solomon disappeared.
"Is it right, now? The stuff, I mean."
Olivia pulled him into a tight hug, her lips at his ear, "It's not right just yet, but it's on the right path."
His arms squeezed her about her waist and she felt him smile against her neck, "So we're gonna get to walk today?"
She pulled back kissed his forehead and smiled, "Yeah. You and me, right after breakfast."
Elliot still lay asleep just where Olivia had left him a little over an hour and half ago and while she'd also left her daughter nestled tightly against her father, her small body wrapped in a warm terry cloth towel, Hannah had demonstrated that she could also wiggle carefully out of her father's embrace and be just as stealth as her mother.
"Pumpkin?" Olivia whispered loudly. "Honey? You're scaring me, baby? Please say hello."
"Shhh? Daddy sweepies," Hannah whispered and Olivia turned around to see her only daughter, sitting butt naked on the floor of their closet her toy of choice, her father's old Marine dress hat hanging lopsided over her brunette hair, her bangs pressing further into her dark eyes and a big smile on her face as she held her finger against her small nose in an effort to silence her mother.
Olivia grinned and crossed the room in search of the digital camera, "Look up here baby," Olivia whispered pointing to the camera she held, "Smile pumpkin," she chuckled and promptly snapped the photo before bending low to pick up her daughter.
"Well-well-well," Elliot propped himself up on his elbows and looked on at his wife and daughter with sleepy eyes. "Two of the most beautiful ladies I've ever seen and they're both in my room. No one will every believe me."
Olivia smiled broadly at her husband and closed the gap between them as Hannah reached out for her father who gladly took her into his arms, "Morning, El," Olivia said softly and sat on the edge of the bed as he wrapped Hannah again in her towel and let her snuggle next to him.
Elliot looked up at his wife and held out his hand to her, "Good morning. Did you sleep better last night?"
She nodded, "So much better. Thank you, Elliot… for everything."
Elliot pulled his wife closer to him so that she lay beside him, his arm around her, "Don't ever feel like you've got to thank me, Liv… I just want you happy, that's all."
She kissed him though his undershirt and smiled up at him, "I woke up this morning and… I'm happy, El. I am."
"Good, I'm really happy to hear that, Olivia… you have no idea how much so."
"I hungies," Hannah popped in and sat back up on the bed. "My tummy grumblin' and getting' loud."
Olivia smiled and held her hand out, "Then lets get some food in there, honey."
"Yeah! And then we gets a kitty!"
Olivia took a deep breath, not to sooth anger but to try and figure out exactly what to do, with this kitty predicament. "Pumpkin," Olivia said softly as Elliot moved to sit next to them, his feet now on the floor. "If we get a kitty, Zeus and Moses won't be nice and it's not that they won't want to be nice but doggies and puppies don't like each other."
She bowed her head and stuck her bottom lip out towards her father, "Daddy… I no hit Solo no more."
"I know honey. You're mommy told me that and I'm very, very proud of you," he assured her and kissed her temple. "We just don't want you to get a kitty if the kitty is gonna get hurt…. That wouldn't be nice, would it?"
She fiddled with her towel and shook her head sadly, "No… But I wants one… Solo get a snakie… my Kermi dead… dat not fair."
Elliot looked to Olivia and both of them were equally at a loss as to fix this, as to make this right with their little girl. Indeed the death of her first animal had been a tragic mistake and the fact that Elliot is almost positive Horace is simply cruising around in the house and sooner or later he will be found by accident and hopefully not by his wife didn't help because when he finally did show himself, it would add to Hannah's frustration already. "You let daddy figure it out okay, baby?"
"You makes it fair?" Hannah asked sadly.
"Of course Daddy will, honey. We'll think of something," Olivia assured her.
"Easy on the syrup, Isaac," Elliot smiled, "You'll be bouncing off the walls with all that liquid sugar."
"Mommy's got all kinds of syrup on her's!" Isaac said with a smile and poured just another dab on his French toast.
Olivia flashed a guilty smile as she took another bite of her breakfast, her elbow resting on the table, her fork dangling from her hand as she tried to cover her guilty look. Elliot slid his hand over her thigh, leaned over and kissed her cheek, "You're mom's got a sugar proof stomach," he teased and smiled as the boys and Hannah giggled and laughed from the kitchen table. Elliot leaned just little more and kissed the corner of her mouth, tasted a small drop of the syrup that rested there, "I love you," he whispered and chastely kissed her cheek.
"Grootie-ottie!" Solomon chuckled as Sam felt for his brother's sippie-cup and slid it closer to him trying to shush him.
"Kiss'er again, Daddy!" Hannah demanded through a grin as she sloppily crammed another piece of French toast into her mouth. "Do it again!" she mumbled around her food and quickly proceeded to throw a piece of sticky breakfast at Solomon.
"Hey!" Solomon yelled, "I makded dat' for yous! Eats it!"
"That's one, Hannah," Elliot said simply and continued with his breakfast. "Is it true, Solo? You made this with, Mommer?"
Solomon grinned after taking a sip from his sippie cup and carelessly flopping it back on the table, "I'a chef!" He declared proudly.
"It's pretty good!" Sam congratulated him and took another bite, "It's really good, little chef!"
Solomon smiled and giggled and looked up at his mother from his booster seat, "Makes a mess."
"Yep, sure did," Olivia laughed and although her son's meal was in fact good, he'd been careful to listen to his mother's instruction and she'd been shocked that she could find something that could keep his attention span as long as cooking had. She'd enjoyed it, that hour with her son where they got messy in egg batter and he'd kissed her just because she was there and it was simply their time without anyone else. No worries of spanking, no aftermath of it either.
She watched her family, watched them laugh and tease one another, watched Elliot wipe their daughter's face tenderly, smiled when Isaac shoved a little more French toast than he could chew into his mouth and observed in slight awe as Sam stood and immediately removed Abel from the highchair that supported his car-seat.
"It's okay, son," Olivia assured him and wiped her mouth on a napkin, "I'll get him."
"I got'em." Sam assured her, "Keep eatin' mom. My stomach hurts anyway."
Elliot tilted his head and observed his son sitting slowly with his littlest brother, "Stomach hurts? You okay, son?"
"Yeah," Sam assured them both and felt for his chair before sitting slowly with Abel in his arms, "just thought he'd be hungry, too."
Isaac slid quickly out of his seat still chewing a bite of his food and padded quickly to the kitchen, standing on his tip-toes and reaching, stretching and grunting for what he needed, he returned immediately to his oldest brother and handed a bottle of formula to him, "Here, Sammy… can I have your pancake?"
Sam smirked, and waited until he felt Abel latch onto the bottle before responding, "Dude, it's French toast, and no… you'll get fat, you already had yours."
"Fat!" Isaac's jaw dropped, "I'm not fat!"
Olivia and Elliot chuckled, "Honey," Olivia started, "If you want more, ask. I'll make you m-"
"But he's not eatin' it!" Isaac said as he gestured to the uneaten meal.
"Wan mines?" Hannah asked as she held up a piece of soggy bread dripping in syrup.
Elliot reached to her, wiped her hand gently and reminded her to use her fork like she knows how to.
Isaac frowned and waited only a few more seconds as his parents began to talk with one another before he very quietly reached over to an unsuspecting Samuel and swiped his food.
Olivia stopped immediately and raised a brow at her young son. "You sure you want to do that?"
Isaac furrowed his brows at his mother and glanced over at his brother who simply smiled, "Isaac, I know you stole my food, dude."
Isaac's jaw dropped, "How'd you know?"
"I'm not dumb."
Isaac looked back at his mother wondering just how on earth it had happened that his brother knew he'd swiped his food. "I warned you," Olivia shrugged and continued with her meal, leaving her five-year-old to wander.
Isaac stood and turned to Sam as he fed Abel, he waved his hand in front of his face, "Hey! How'd you do that?" he asked shocked and waved his hand some more just to double check.
"Stop short-stack, just eat it," Sam conceded, tired of the air the waving hand was producing over his face. "But don't steal and don't be sneaky like that either. It's not cool."
"Kay," Isaac agreed, more focused on the food and promptly began to eat, shoving food in until his cheeks puffed out and he smiled up at his dad.
Elliot smiled back, "You're gonna choke."
Isaac took a drink from his small cup and smiled again as milk dribbled down his chin. "I'm a big boy."
Olivia grinned and sat back in her chair taking it all in. The laughter and the carefree attitude of their children. The way Sam cared for the kids, assuring they had their milk, that the other had his bottle and still that the other learned manners of honesty and courtesy.
The only thing she loved more than all of that was how Elliot's eyes lit up, how his smile flashed freely, nothing forced or mustered up to display to onlookers. No, it was genuine and his warm hand grazed her leg, periodically producing her own smile. She loved to watch the interaction here as the smell of syrup lingered through the air and the citrus of orange juice tingled her lips.
She felt more confident with what she'd told Sam. Things weren't right just yet, but they were on the right path.
"Casey?" George Huang smiled from the threshold of his office and invited her in with a wave of his arm.
"Hey," Casey smiled tightly and practically pushed past him to get into his streamline office "I need your help."
George gently closed the door behind her, "Would you like something to drink?"
"George," Casey exhaled and flopped into an oversized chair that practically enveloped her entire body.
"You seem worn down-"
"Thanks George, that's exactly what I needed to hear right now. That I look like crap."
George smirked and slowly took a seat across her and crossed his legs, "You know that's not what I meant… you just look like you're under a tremendous amount of stress. Is everything going okay at home?"
Casey couldn't help but smile. Yes, everything was going great at home well, other than the fact that she and her husband sat on opposite sides of the fence when it came to Alex. Casey's version of what should happen was simple. Step One: Go to wherever Alex is. Step Two: Yell at Alex for doing everything entirely wrong and Step 3 Part A: Offer ultimatum to come back with Casey or be hit over the head and dragged back. Part B: Hit Alex over the head and drag her back should she not accept the ultimatum. Paul on the other hand, had some sort of deep philosophical-bull about treading lightly. He simply didn't understand how the three women operated.
"Everything is fine at home, George," Casey said softly. "I… I actually came because I need your help. I need a favor."
George offered one of his tight-lip arrogant smiles that were both infuriating and oddly comforting, "Well, I gathered that. I mean, none of you actually come to me for purely social purposes."
"Funny," Casey deadpanned. "It's about Alex… can you help?"
"Alex?" George furrowed his brows, suddenly intrigued as he leaned forward on his knees. "Is she okay?"
Casey exhaled, "I don't know- no one knows… she vanished."
"Vanished?" George arched a brow. "What precipitated that? May I ask?"
Casey licked her lips, "I can't… I can't really get into that George. Suffice it to say that she's having a rough time at home… She took Thomas and left Robert."
George took a deep breath in and leaned back slowly in his chair, tugging on his sweater vest in what Casey thought was an attempt to stall for time, to gather his thoughts or perhaps to clean up the brick of shit that was just laid under his chair because both of them were now on the same page.
"He could press charges, Casey."
"Yeah," Casey nodded wide-eyed. "I know that and you know that and everyone else that we know, knows that but let's thank our lucky stars that-"
"Her husband hasn't figured out that spouses can be prosecuted for taking their children across state lines," George finished and shifted in his seat. "My guess is… you're wondering if she's gone back to the location and name she was given while she was in the program? Maybe she hasn't gone over state lines. Maybe she's still in New York."
Casey leaned forward to suggest the utmost importance of their conversation, "'s gone. I tracked her to Texas where she promptly fell off the face of the earth. George… you're FBI… you could find out where she was placed-"
"She never told you or Olivia?" George asked, somewhat shocked.
"She never so much as talked about the program to me and Olivia has decided to pull her own vanishing act for the time being so I'm kind of stuck here, George… .I need you."
George licked his lips and tilted his head to look at Casey, "And what are you going to do if we do find her, Casey? And I mean if because this isn't a simple string to pull, it's not a matter of me calling a friend from college to interview a suspect for you or to collaborate with me on a case. This… What are you going to do?"
Casey shook her head, "I haven't really thought that far yet, George," she said in irritation. "Other than wanting to strangle her and tell her what a rotten bitch she's being," her voice softened and she looked straight at George with pleading in her eyes. "I also want her to know that we're still here. That her husband is worried sick about her and that… not all things that are broken have to stay that way."
George leaned back in his chair for a brief moment before standing and crossing the room to a filing cabinet that he unlocked with a key and slowly made his way through the hanging folders. "Why did she leave?"
"I told you-"
"Was it anything illegal? Anything that is gonna get you or I into any more trouble?" he asked and pulled out a manila folder before turning around to face Casey.
Casey smirked, "No more than usual."
"Comforting," George smirked and took a seat at his desk this time. He opened up the folder and looked up at Casey, "When Alex came back for Olivia's trial… she was having a very difficult time with the transition."
"Olivia had mentioned that to me," Casey confirmed, "But… it was all based on what we saw from Alex, not what she'd actually said to us… she just wouldn't talk about it."
"I don't think she wanted it to exist," George said softly. "She was pulled away without warning from the only life she knew and from people she cared about and forced to become someone she wasn't… when she came back here, she came to see me a few times-"
"She never said anything," Casey whispered in shock. "She never once said-"
"Well," George smirked at Casey, "take into consideration who Alex is. She wouldn't want everyone knowing. She asked if she could be allowed to be debriefed by me and the FBI agreed. I believe more so because I was someone she was familiar with. I saw her for a few months and then… Well, when she met Robert things seemed to improve drastically and she simply didn't need to be here. She was very comfortable moving on. Or at least she appeared that way."
"So… I mean… is it possible that she went back to a friend or lover?"
"I doubt it," George shook his head and looked over his notes, "Alex hated that life. She had a long relationship but she herself admitted it was only because she knew she had to settle. She had to create something different from what she had here to survive. She didn't like it at all."
"Well," Casey leaned forward in hopes of gathering information from glancing at Huang's notes. "Did she ever tell you what her name was or where she lived? Anything that could point me in the right direction?"
"Brittany Solvang," George said softly, "Oxnard, California."
"Brittany Solvang?" Casey made a look of disapproval, "Alex doesn't really look like a Brittany Solvang."
George smiled and looked out the window before looking back, "It doesn't really matter, because once she elected to get out of the program… Brittany Solvang, disappeared."
"What?" Casey asked, "What do you mean?"
"Brittany Solvang is no longer in existence. The FBI pulls the identity once the person elects to leave or is released from the program."
Casey's jaw dropped, "Well what the hell am I supposed to do now?"
George shrugged his shoulder, "I'm sure her ex-fiancé in Oxnard is still dying to know why she left him at the alter."
"Mom?" Sam asked as he and his mother walked casually along the shoulder of the road, the fallen leaves crumpling under their footsteps as the cool breeze surrounded them.
"Do you think I'm fat?" Sam asked and Olivia almost burst into laughter until she noticed that Sam was abundantly serious.
"What? No… honey you're a swimmer. A very good swimmer. You're not fat. Not even a little… who told you that?"
"My coach said I was starting to look like I haven't been swimming."
"Well," Olivia nudged him gently with her elbow, "you haven't been with that wrist."
"I told him that… you know that the water kills me when I stroke," Sam said softly and absently rubbed his wrist through the small black brace.
"And what did he say?" Olivia asked in curiosity.
"He said he understood but that I needed to keep my cardio up and that I should start running… Running is really hard for me, Mom."
Olivia wrapped her arm around Sam's shoulder and kissed his temple, "You're not fat honey… your coach just doesn't want you to struggle with endurance when you do get back in to the pool. How about the treadmill at the gym? You know in case you forgot, your parents own two gyms so…. Treadmills aren't' exactly lacking."
He smiled softly, "I loose my balance on them… Sometimes I hit the rail with my hip and… I don't know, I feel like I'm gonna fall off and everyone is gonna laugh at me."
"I need my hand to hold on."
"How about spin-"
"I can't see the people to know what their doing," he laughed and nudged her back as they walked.
"Well," Olivia stopped and softly placed her hand on his shoulder to let him know that he needed too as well. "What can I do for you? How can I make it better for you Sam?"
Sam chewed his bottom lip, "Dad said…. Dad said you used to run a lot… can you run with me? I don't want to get lost or fall."
Olivia grinned, "Sam you want to beat your ol' mom around the track huh?"
Sam blushed, "No… I just don't want to suffer or gain weight-"
"Hey," she said, and Sam immediately caught the seriousness in her tone. "I don't want you getting obsessed with your weight, do you understand? Its one thing to be healthy but I don't want you to be obsessed, you got it? Because that's not healthy."
"Got it," Sam nodded and continued to walk with his mother. "Mom?"
"You sound happy," he said matter of fact.
"I am happy, baby," she assured him.
"Did Abel make you that way? Happy, I mean?" he asked and there was something in his voice that was completely broken.
Olivia stopped again and looked at her son, looked at the worry on his face and the stress in his jaw, "Samuel," she said and cupped his cheek, "you have always made me happy, do you understand that?"
Sam swallowed and nodded softly as a tear slipped down his cheek, "Yeah," he whispered.
She swiped her thumb over his tear and still held his face in her hands, "Then why are you crying, honey? What is it?"
"I don't ever think… I'll be strong like you or Dad."
She furrowed her brows, "You're right," she said and felt him tense. "Shhh," she soothed, "Let me finish… You won't be strong like me or your Dad… you'll be stronger. You understand me?"
Sam covered her hands with his own and sniffled, "You sound so different today, Mom"
"I finally figured some things out baby. That's all," she said softly. "Sometimes, life gives us these really horrible things to deal with and our mind… well, sometimes it's a little too much and our minds go on hiatus."
He chuckled softly and lowered her hands from his face before stepping in and wrapping his arms around her, "I love you."
She furrowed her brows in confusion as to what exactly Sam was dealing with. Her guess was that feeling fat in his Speedo wasn't exactly on the priority list. "Mom? Can we sit somewhere and talk? I mean really talk?"
Olivia released him slowly and guided him carefully to a small patch of grass laden with fallen leaves, "Go ahead, take a seat. Your butt'll be soaked but… it's all that's out here," she said softly and sat down next to him, the soft morning sun beginning to touch them with its warm rays. "I guess, I should have brought my gloves, huh?" she asked softly hoping he'd be forthcoming in this discussion because really, she could already feel the moisture soaking through her jeans, but if he didn't care than neither did she.
"Want mine?" Sam asked softly and started to pull them off of his hands.
"No, honey. Keep'em on," she assured him and waited a few minutes before prodding him, "Want to tell me what's so important I'm sitting on wet grass?"
The corner of his mouth lifted gently, "I am too."
"I know," she bumped into him softly with her shoulder, "The big question, though, is why are we sitting on wet grass?"
He took a few moments and Olivia could sense that whatever he was about to say was heavy and she didn't know exactly if she was ready but what she did know was that she had a new strength about her, a renewed promise to her family and a personal want to get better. "Samue-"
"The man who raped you," Sam whispered and stopped as if testing the waters with those five words.
Her breathing stopped and she had to remind herself to inhale again. She could do this. She could. Not a problem. Just some questions. Cake. She cleared her throat, "Yeah, baby? Did you want to ask me something about him?"
Sam's brows crunched together and a vein popped out of his forehead as he chewed his bottom lip then tried to face his mothers direction a little more squarely, "He was your brother?... I mean… I hear you and Dad talk sometimes and… Was he?"
She swallowed and her tears were immediate but quiet. "Yes," she whispered. "Yes… it was a very long time ago, though, Sam-"
"But… it still hurts you. It hurts you a lot doesn't it?"
She nodded and found herself chewing on her own lip, suddenly unconcerned with the moisture of the grass, or the trees blowing gently around them or the occasional car passing them by, "Yeah, Samuel. It hurts me a lot."
He took a few more moments to himself as if piecing together information, not wanting her to know that he hears things he knows would embarrass her, things that would ruin surprises for his brothers and sister. He knows she sometimes had his father check the bedding to make sure Horace hasn't shown up and he knows that she and his father have decided on his punishment for breaking the officer's nose and he also knows that whatever his father does with his tongue she always asks him to do it again.
"Abel… he's his, huh?"
"Is that important?" she asked softly.
Sam raised his shoulder, "I don't know… I thought, I mean… I hear you and Dad talking and… it's hard to love him isn't it?"
"Do you think it's hard to love him?" she asked softly, "Because of who his father is?"
Sam's brows raised softly, "My real dad was pretty bad… you learned to love me, but… you shut down on me when Abel came to live with us and you said that we weren't ever allowed to shut down on one another. I don't like Abel sometimes because I know that your heart must really hurt."
She ran her knuckle over his cheek as softly as she could, "I would never know that you struggle with Abel… not the way you care for him so much."
Sam took a breath, "I thought maybe… maybe if you could see how much me and Dad like him and how much the monsters like him… that you would like him, too. But it's hard, cause sometimes I don't like him either."
"Sam," Olivia covered his hand with her own, "you can't punish Abel for something that happened to me. He didn't have anything to do with it and you know what?"
She took a deep breath and licked her lips before exhaling, "In a weird way… Abel has forced me to face the things that happened to me Sam. To really face them and to deal with them."
"But… couldn't you face them without Abel?" he asked in curiosity.
"I don't think so, honey. I… I was being too much of a coward and you know what else? It was really starting to make your father sad too and I… I don't ever want to see your father sad."
Sam nodded softly, "So… so that's how you get strong? By facing the things that happened to you and facing people you don't care for because they hurt you?"
"Well," she shrugged, "I suppose in this instance, that's what's gonna make me stronger, sure."
"So you're just gonna fly to California?" Paul smiled from his seat in the small diner, his son on his lap and happily eating from his father's fork when the opportunity presented its self.
"You don't approve?" Casey tilted her head as she dipped her fry in A-1 sauce.
"It's not a matter of approving or not approving," he assured her as he extended his leg to hers for the sole purpose of contact. "It's just… Casey, you can't just go there and rip some guys heart out by asking about his old lover."
Casey exhaled, "You make me out to this cruel woman, Paul," she smiled sexily and rubbed his calve with her foot, "Is that how you see me Paul? Am I really that bad?"
Paul kissed the top of his son's head, "That's not what I think. What I think is that you love Alex so much… some times you don't take the whole picture into consideration."
Casey looked down at her meal, picked up the philly cheese steak and took a bite as she soaked up his words. She didn't want this to be a fight. Not at all. She wanted a discussion and they'd been doing well up until she told him she wanted to fly to California to see if she could pull information out of this guy. Anything to point them into the right direction.
"Have you heard from the Stablers?" Casey mumbled, covering her mouth as she chewed her food.
"Hi mommy!" Addison grinned at his mother and waved just because he could.
"Hi sweety," Casey waved across the small table, "I love you."
"I love you, too!" he giggled and took a large bite from his father's fork.
"He's getting so big," Casey smiled warmly and looked from her son to her husband, "he looks more and more like you everyday."
He grinned proudly and hugged his boy as he sat on his lap, "He and I did a little science experiment this morning."
"How'd he like it?" Casey asked and took another bite of her meal.
"He loved it… he thinks q-tips are magic wands now because when you soak them in dish soap and then place them in milk that has a few drops of food coloring… well, all sorts of things happen."
She chuckled and swallowed, "The fact that you know something like that is a bit disturbing."
Paul took a sip of his drink and looked at his wife, "Case… all I'm saying is that if you're gonna flip everyone's world upside down, you better handle this right. Don't be so hard on Alex that she won't want to come back. She's already punishing herself enough don't you think?"
"So," Olivia smiled warmly at her husband through the mirror as she hugged him from behind, kissed him softly on his back through his shirt and playfully rested her fingertips on the bare skin just under the hem, "I had an interesting talk with, Sam."
"Yeah?" Elliot grinned at her and wrapped her hands around him tighter. "What he'd have to say? He's been wanting to talk with you for awhile."
"Well," she took a deep breath and exhaled it over the back of his shirt. The warm sensation hit his penis like an electrode. "He… I think he's still holding onto something but… he knows quite a bit, Elliot. It… it shocked me. He knows that Abel is my brother's son and he knows… he knows what Oliver did to me."
Elliot spun around immediately and looked at her, his hand instantly cupping her face, "Are you okay? How'd that go? Do you need to talk? What-"
"Shhh," she grinned and covered his lips with her finger. "I'm just fine. I'm fine and so is he. I think… I think he's letting us know things in phases, that's all."
"But you're okay?" he asked, genuinely concerned as he leaned back to rest against the counter of the bathroom sink.
"I am… I just wanted you to know that he's piecing things together more and more and I know we've never wanted to just put it all out there for him, but… he's a smart boy."
"But you're okay?" he asked again and rested his hand on the curve of her hip, "you're the one I care about right now. I love him to death, but… are you okay?"
She smiled broadly and hooked her arm around his neck, pulling him close to her, "I'm fine," she assured him and softly pressed her lips against his, sucked gently on his lower lip and pulled back quietly. She felt his erection against her mid section and smiled up at him, "Too bad we were interrupted in the truck… you been fighting this long?"
He swallowed loudly and clenched his jaw, "Liv… come on. I've got to trim my beard and you know I'm horrible at it…. I can't be distracted."
She arched her brow and stared at him, dared him to stop her as she slowly undid the button on his jeans, "Sam is in the shower… Isaac and monsters are watching Saturday morning cartoons," she said and slowly started to unzip his zipper as she leaned in little by little, her lips mere inches from his. "Abel is sleeping in the play pen," she said softly and inched her lips closer to his, felt his breath against her face as it came out in short exhalations.
His hips moved gently against her, "Come on, El," she goaded. "You wanted to have sex with me last night, just as much as I wanted to have sex with you."
"Liv," he warned and he wasn't sure how serious he sounded but he was pretty sure that when he reached around and rested his hands on the globes of her backside that she knew he wanted her and if she didn't figure it out, he ground his painful erection against her and exhaled in pleasure so that she could.
She flicked her tongue over his lips, grabbed the hem of his shirt and tugged at it, "Take it off."
"Now. Take it off. We don't have time for this. I still have to get to work," she told him and raised his shirt over his head, his arms coming immediately down and grabbing her hips, spinning and picking her up onto the counter in one smooth motion.
He was frantic and hungry and in love with her and at this moment, in lust with her. His hand fell immediately to her breast as he cradled her on the counter, his large arm holding her waist as she tilted her head back to the mirror and groaned at his possessive touch.
His lips were on hers again and his hand was pulling quickly at the neckline of her shirt, pulling it down roughly to expose her bra. He separated from her mouth, tried desperately to thrust against her again and when he didn't like the minimal contact he was receiving he abruptly pulled her closer. She gasped and chuckled at the sudden movement and he leered at her with heat and seduction and pure cockiness.
"What are you waiting for, Elliot?" she whispered softly and raised her feet to his hips, gently began to shove the denim down over his hips with her toes.
He growled feeling her legs and feet against him, he ducked his head to her exposed cleavage and bit gently there, felt her arch against him and then he suddenly stopped, his lips still resting tenderly over her chest. "Liv-" he whispered and swallowed before looking up at her.
She was so sexy, waiting for him to have his way with her. She was waiting for him to move inside of her, to have his lips on her nipples, his hands where they pleased and right now her face was flush, her lips swollen and her eyes were dark with ache.
"What's wrong?" she asked, searching his face. "What is it? Does this hurt to be right here? We can go to the bed," she offered. "Do you want the bed?"
His face was suddenly serious and he slowly kissed the corner of her mouth, "Liv… we still… we still haven't talked. Don't you want to talk about-"
She pulled him closer with her leg, "Not as much as I want you inside of me, right now."
"But?" she furrowed her brows and her limbs slowly released him.
He leaned his palms against his the counter top and hung his head, groaned in frustration. He wanted her but he wasn't so sure her emotions were up to this, just yet. "Liv… I don't want to fight with you."
She smirked, "Then you'd better loose those pants."
His erection hurt to be inside of her. He wanted to feel her body slide over his, her heat and wetness and pull and depth. He wanted it. Craved it. "Liv… I can't-"
She smiled, and licked her top lip as she stroked his length through his pants, "Oh, I think you can, El."
"Liv…," he raised his head, kissed her temple, "Liv… what if… what if you're not ready? What if you don't come? I don't want a fight. Not now."
Well, if that didn't kill the mood.
She took a deep breath, exhaled and to his astonishment, smiled up at him and shrugged, "I don't know if I'll climax, but isn't there only one way to find out?" she suggested and wiggled just a little closer to him, dipped her hand into his jeans and whispered in his ear, "I still enjoy this."
It had taken all of a nano-second for him to pull her into him hard, and she locked her legs around him and slapped her palms against the counter top in an attempt to not go crashing against the counter and mirror. "El-"
He'd picked her up and pinned her against the wall, her arms around his neck, as he crashed against her mouth, he was biting and seeking and pillaging and taking her for everything she'd give him.
"El," she managed to pant in between his kisses, "hurry, please."
She shifted so his knee was against the wall, her body resting on his thigh and he could care less that it hurt like hell to have her in that position. He pushed his pants down even farther, just enough to release his body and then he groaned in frustration. She thought he was going to stop and she momentarily felt disappointed because she just needed this connection, she didn't care if it lasted one minute or one hour. She wanted him inside of her. Now.
So she was relieved when he'd gently swatted her leg, "Help me out, baby," he panted and moved his hips just enough for her to stand on her own will, but when he felt that she moved too slowly in taking her jeans off, he tugged them down with her panties. Yanked them over her thighs in desperation and continued to pull them further as he kissed and lapped at her skin, her inner thighs and kissed the folds of her sex just as she'd kicked one leg out of the cumbersome garment.
She groaned the minute his tongue darted out to stroke her and he couldn't help himself any longer, he stood immediately and hiked her against the wall, his hand on his shaft as he entered her. Fast and hard.
She wrapped her arm tighter around his neck, her other hand fisting through his hair as she thudded the back of her head against the wall, her face in a grimace of pain and satisfaction. She pulsed around his length and he didn't wait. He didn't follow his standard procedure of checking to make sure she was okay, instead he pulled out and thrust into her deeper and her leg wrapped around him reflexively.
She felt herself getting wetter with every stroke of his body inside of hers and she didn't care that wet friction, the smell of sex and the sounds of their pleasure were the only things that filled the air. She held on, as he thrust and she felt her arms loose their grip as the sheen of sweat built on his body, "Faster, Elliot," she groaned. "Oh God," she moaned and dragged her teeth over his beard.
He reached back, pulled her hands from his neck and pressed them above her head, his hips taking over in a pace that he didn't know how long would last. His lips against hers before falling to her neck and the top of her cleavage "I'm always fighting this damn erection for you," he managed and slammed into her again, holding himself as high and deep as possible.
She bit her bottom lip and tried to hold in a scream. She was wet, she could feel it, her thighs were hot and burning and her nipples were harder than she could ever remember but what she also realized was that her body wasn't going to release and that was fine with her because Elliot was literally consuming her and she'd let him have whatever he wanted.
"Liv," he panted and pulled out, moved back in and continued the same frantic pace again. "Coming," he groaned. "Baby, I'm coming."
"Go," she encouraged him and clenched her muscles so he had no other choice. He exploded within her and his movements slowed as his hips convulsed against hers and his heat spread deep within her body. She hasn't come and that's okay with her, because it's been erotic to see her husband move as he has, his jeans pushed down to his thighs, her's still on one leg. He'd wanted her and wasted very little time getting her.
She placed one leg on the floor and he slowly withdrew from her before he slipped his hand between them and gently ran his fingertips over her center. "I've got to get cleaned up," she said softly and moved his hand.
"Liv," he pulled his face back and kissed her lips tenderly. "At least let me try?"
She grinned, "It's not that, it's… I told Santo's I'd be there today to catch up on the mountains of paperwork that are undoubtedly on my desk."
He furrowed his brow as she placed her other leg on the floor, "I don't want our sex life to be one-sided, Liv… I want you to-"
"Shh," she smiled and kissed him gently back, "Believe me when I tell you… I enjoyed it, Elliot. Just because I didn't come didn't mean I didn't enjoy it. You'll have to trust me on that because my orgasm seems to be on vacation for now and that's not your fault, so… just let me enjoy having you anyway, okay?"
"You want me that bad? You can enjoy it without an orgasm?"
"Oh yeah," she chuckled, "I enjoy it that much."
He bowed his head and tried to hide his bashful grin, "That's sexy," he whispered and still held her tight.
"Yeah well I'm not gonna be real sexy in a couple of seconds, Elliot. You've got to let me get cleaned up."
He grinned again and pressed his lips to her ear, "I love coming inside of you."
Her breath hitched at his confession and she gently pushed him off of her, "We're both a mess, Elliot… I've got to get in the shower."
He grinned and stepped back, "I'll wash up right here… you grab your shower."
"Thank you," she smiled and kissed him chastely.
"Liv?" he called to her softly and pulled his pants up to his hips without regard for the button or zipper.
"Yeah?" she said and turned to look at him as she finally ditched her jeans.
"We still need to talk-"
"Will you stop killin the mood, Elliot?" she laughed and closed the gap between them, the evidence that he'd been inside of her threatening to make its self known if she didn't get into the shower soon. "We'll talk, alright?" she assured him and kissed him again, "We will. Tonight. I promise… I do want to talk, but not right now. Okay? Let me shower?"
He nodded and assessed her somewhat rigid posture with curiosity. His brows arched almost imperceptibly when he realized she was clenching her thighs to keep his release inside of her and he felt an immediate rush of blood to his groin again. "Liv-"
"El!" she pulled away immediately and her face flushed red in embarrassment. "Don't. Please? Stop looking."
He grinned and finally granted her freedom, "That's hot, Liv… wasn't trying to embarrass you."
"So your daddy," Olivia whispered to Abel as he rested contently against her chest as she worked, "thought you and I could spend some time together today, while the Monsters are with Nicole… pretty nice of him, huh?"
Abel took in a shuddered breath and let it out with a yawn and she immediately pulled him back so she could see what he looked like, to see how the yawn had stretched and contorted his face, how his tiny arms and legs stiffened with the yawn. He was cute she decided. Absolutely cute.
"Look at all this work, Abel," she said softly as she started to fuss and pull his fist into his mouth. "There must be days and days of it on my desk," she told him and reached with one hand as she cradled him with the other and tried to calm him, knowing that if he broke into a full cry it would take much, much longer to calm him.
"Let's see," she said soothingly. "What do you think? Do you think the employees would like to get paid this month?" she asked and opened a file before looking at what she thought must have been forty or fifty more.
Abel fussed, knowing he didn't have her full attention and really that's all he wanted, to feel the security of being held safely against someone, to hear their soothing voice and feel them rock him.
Olivia looked down at her and then back at her cluttered desk. Maybe Elliot was right. Maybe it was time to start hiring someone to run the gyms so she could spend time with the kids and Abel. Maybe… maybe she was letting the gym work load consume her as much as she let SVU and she remembers exactly what had happened with that.
She peered down at Abel whose was inhaling for a full screech as his face reddened with his irritation that she split her focus, that she was trying to work and hold him at the same time and while she knows he isn't capable of knowing that was what she was doing, she can feel it in his cry and his tense body that her split would not be tolerated by him.
"You know what?" she said softly and stood slowly with him, "Who needs work, huh?" she asked, not at all expecting a response. "Who needs all that when I've got a little boy here to get to know?" she said and held him securely against her body but when he still refused to settle, when he still continued to cry she looked more carefully and smiled as she laid him gently down on the couch of her office.
"Well, see?" she cooed gently at the young baby, "I just learned something about you," she told him and immediately began to fix the blanket he was wrapped in. "You like the way your daddy swaddles you, huh?" she said and confirmed her own assertion when she tightened the blanket around his tiny body and brought him back into her arms before sitting softly with him on the couch.
Her voice was gentle as she sang tender songs of love and innocence over him and he quieted the moment he heard her voice. "See there… I know that about you too. I know you like it when I sing to you and when your Daddy walks around with you and I know you like your music on in your crib at night… Your brother, Sam really likes music, too."
Olivia sat there for long moments as she held him, watch his eyes try to focus on her face, heard him coo and move his feet in the tight warm blanket. "You're amazing," she whispered softly. "I never thought I could say that, but you are so amazing… You've got my nose and that's sort of… weird I guess but, can I tell you a secret?" she asked and paused as he simply stared at her.
"It…" she shrugged slowly, "it sort of makes me feel a little better about this whole situation, like you and I have something in common other than your father… well, but just so you know Elliot's your daddy now… he wouldn't want it any other way." She ran her fingertip lightly over his cheek. "I… he inspires me, you know? He's got this big ole' heart and he just opened it right up when he saw you. He just opened it up and took you in and… I feel a little bad that I'm playing catch-up but I hope you understand that I don't hate you. I don't," she shook her head, "I promise you, I don't hate you."
She held him even longer, ran her fingers through his silky hair and smiled, "You're making me not want to work at all," she confessed softly and looked back at her desk, "I'm gonna get further behind," she said and looked back down at Abel.
"When I had Isaac…," she chuckled at the young boy. "Oh man… it killed me to be at work and so I had pictures of him everywhere and I'd call the sitter to talk to him even if it was just so he could hear me," she told him. "And Sam, well I worried just as much when I was at work, I wondered if we'd bond, if he and I would be close, if he and your daddy would be close and everything worked out pretty well," she said proudly and traced his moist lips with her fingertip. He latched on immediately and sucked calmly on her finger as she smiled and continued to talk to him, her voice soothing him and causing his focus to stay soley on her.
"When I had The Monsters… I just wanted to stay home. Sam was older, and Isaac was just this little comedian and… I just wanted to be around them all the time," she said and gently bent her neck to kiss his forehead again. He stopped sucking on her finger the moment her lips brushed against his olive skin but the second they withdrew he began sucking again, simply staring at her.
"When I brought you home," her voice cracked suddenly and she raised her shoulder, "I didn't know what to do with you and… I'm sorry Abel, I'm sorry because I looked forward to work and… and then I just fell completely apart and yet here you are being so patient with me… that's why I think you're amazing," she said softly and looked back at her desk.
Olivia felt his warm mouth sucking softly on her finger and it occurred to her that none of her children had ever done that before. They would suck once or twice and then immediately let go, but this habit was unique to Abel. It was something they could share between the two of them no matter how ridiculous it would seem to other people.
She took into consideration that even when she was at the gym everyday she was always running behind, barely able to get pay roll done in time and her children… well she'd like to say she was okay with them hanging out in the gym's day care and playing in her office but really when she thought about it like she is doing now, it simply served as a reminder to the fact that she could be spending more time with them.
The reality was she and Elliot were blessed. Neither of them really had to work, yet they did so out of habit and structure and routine, but they weren't living paycheck to paycheck and they could more than afford to higher one or two people to do the books so she could spend time with her kids, stop by the gym's here and again, maybe daily just to make sure everything was on track, but spend countless hours there? Have her kids grow up there? No. No that wasn't necessary at all.
Olivia stood with Abel in her arms and crossed the room to the phone on her desk. She'd pushed the button to the front desk and took a deep breath with Santo's picked up on the other end, "Santo's, you got a second?" she asked and gently bounced on her feet to keep Abel soothed.
"That's what you pay me for Mrs. Stabler."
"I also pay you to call me Olivia but we see how well you listen," she teased.
"Sorry, Olivia… what can I do? You want me to come up for Abel?"
"No way," she smiled and the sincerity in her voice surprised her and left her momentarily speechless.
"Olivia?" Santos questioned on the other line.
Olivia snapped back into the conversation and tucked the phone between her shoulder and ear to hold Abel more comfortably, she smiled at him, "Santos, I want to put an ad in the paper."
"Excuse me, miss?" an older gentleman waved her to his table and motioned to his coffee mug, "I've asked you to re-fill it several times now, do you think I can get the coffee?"
Marge gave a tight smile and promptly placed her tablet in her apron and bowed her head to the man in apology, "I'm so sorry, let me get that for you," she said and promptly removed the mug from the table to refill it. She'd been eyeing the clock all day wondering how her son was doing at the day care that looked as disheveled as one could be and still be legal, but it was cheap, and money was more than tight.
She'd been crying just the night before when she calculated her finances, what she knew would be going out versus what was in the bank and what would be coming in and boy did she pick the state to move to because jobs were virtually impossible to come by. She could fall back on her law-degree or her teaching credential and be immediately traced and found just as soon as soon as she could imagine.
She'd been crying and thought she hit rock bottom until she figured out that the only thing available was being a waitress in a run down diner because she had no idea what the hell she was doing. So far, she's dropped three plates, got an obnoxious amount of orders wrong and she'd like to pour the mug of freshly poured coffee in her hand, right into the old-farts lap.
"So sorry about that sir," she said softly and placed the steaming beverage on his table as she walked away, her irritation with her newly given name festering within her. She was a ridiculous stereotype. Marge the waitress only this particular Marge was also pregnant.
"Miss!" The older man groaned in irritation from his table.
Marge turned and faced him, "Yes?"
"I asked for half decaf and half regular… this is full regular and it's simply too hot."
Is there a damn Starbucks sign outside?
"I'm sorry, Sir-"
"Are you new at this or what? I asked for a simple cup of coffee," he blabbed and the next table over began to signal for her assistance.
"I am new, I'm sorry, sir," Marge replied and bit her bottom lip trying desperately to keep her eyes from watering. How had she come to this?
Oh right, she screwed another man and got knocked up with his child. Has been too prideful to go back to her husband who may or may not know she's pregnant. Right. Okay. Moving along.
"Hey lady!" a young twentish looking male called with his hand held in the air, snapping as if she were a dog, "Can you take our order or what?"
Marge pushed her glasses along her nose and grabbed quickly at the hot cup of coffee. In fact, she'd grabbed too quickly and the beverage spilled onto her body producing a piercing scream of pain as it seeped through her uniform and burned her skin.
Elliot knocked softly onto the office of his wife's door and smiled when he opened it gently and saw her laid on the couch a small bundle of blue on her chest while Hannah and Solomon piled sloppily on her legs. He'd taken Sam to his voice lesson and Isaac to play in the park and have a bite of ice cream as they waited for Sam to finish.
He'd played with Isaac, went down the slide with him and laughed with him when he didn't quite get his feet out in time to stand up after at the bottom of the slide. Instead he'd fallen on his butt and laughed with his father who helped him up and into his arms. Sam had groan anxious the moment they'd picked him up from his voice lesson. Yet, this was how it was when he went to Maggs.
There were days that he went without worry and still there were days like today when Elliot had to pull over and allow his son to vomit. Watch, as Isaac rubbed Sam's back and assured him everything would be okay. Elliot had smiled soflty when Sam simply leaned against him and told him that today would be hard at Maggs for him but that he would go.
Elliot had walked with Isaac into the gym and smiled as he rocketed to the day care in search of a playmate but his heart worried for Sam who he knew he'd pick up in less than an hour. He couldn't help but notice the difference between his two boys, his five-year-old who happily ran to his destination and his thirteen-year-old who struggled to keep in his tears as he walked to his.
Yet, this… this scene of his wife and toddlers and his infant son all asleep and together on one small couch caused him to smile as he crossed the room to them. Olivia looked peaceful, she looked content and his little ones were happily asleep on her legs, Hannah tucked between her mother's leg and the back of the couch as Solomon looked to be holding on for dear life as he snored and slobbered against his mother jeans.
Elliot grabbed a blanket from the playpen and laid it on the ground. He extracted Solomon gently and carefully and laid him on the soft blanket followed by his sister who simply snuggled up to her brother and rested peacefully next to him. Gently, he removed his wife's hand from his son's small back and carefully lifted him into his arms, a gentle, lingering kiss placed on his forehead as Olivia stirred and rolled to her side, "Thank you," she muttered sleepily and pulled her legs up as far as the narrow couch would allow her.
He placed Abel in the playpen and returned to his wife, "Liv... Liv, come with me to get Sam… let's go home where you can really rest. I'll come in tonight and get the work that I know how to do caught up."
Her eyes fluttered open and she turned around to face him on the couch, "I didn't realize I was tired until I laid down."
"That's usually how it works," he said and ran his hand through her short hair, "Sam's at Maggs… not easy getting' him in there. We're gonna have a rough night with him, I think."
She nodded softly, "He's definitely got something on his mind, but you and I both know how he is… he'll tell us when he wants to."
"Yeah," he agreed and held out his hand to her, "Come on, let's load up the kids, grab some coffee and pick up Sam."
She took his hand and let him pull her up into his arms, she rested her head on his chest and allowed herself to be content, not to feel the dread of tonight, the dread of what they may have to go through with Samuel tonight. Then again, he may bounce back and everything would be okay. The sessions with Maggs, were just too unpredictable to know, so she would force herself not to worry until the time comes.
"I have something for you," she said softly and kissed his neck.
"Ohhh, a present?" he grinned and kissed her cheek. "Is it you naked with just a bow?"
She chuckled and swatted him playfully before taking his hand and leading him to her desk that was still very much cluttered.
"I thought you were gonna work today?" he asked her with wide eyes as he stared at the amount of work she didn't get done which appeared to be almost all of it.
"I did… I did payroll and then played with the kids," she told him and retrieved a standard white envelope from her desk and handed it to him with a smile.
He looked at it and raised a brow but was caught off guard by a new picture on the filing cabinet. He furrowed his brows and stared at the picture, "Is that Hannah?"
Olivia diverted her attention to the small picture held by a magnet on her filing cabinet. "Yeah… she slipped out of bed this morning after I laid her down with you and she managed to get your old Marine hat… she had it on and it was so cute I snapped a picture and emailed it to myself… it's hot off the printer," she smiled but her smile instantly faded when she noticed Elliot's clenched jaw.
He reached out and took the photo off the cabinet and stared at it. Remembered the blood that trickled down his neck as he and his fellow Marines ran for their lives. He remembered the screaming in that small hut as a young child held an AK-47 at him and he remembered the sound of that child's body hitting the deck after he'd pulled the trigger to his service weapon in self-defense.
The photo was innocent, his three-year-old nude daughter in her father's military hat, her broad smile and perfectly spaced teeth, her large brown eyes staring at the camera covered sporadically by her dark bangs.
"El?" Olivia whispered, "What is it?"
Elliot slowly replaced the photo and looked at his wife. "El? You okay? You were sleeping, its okay that she wondered off, she wouldn't have been able to get out of the hou-"
He pulled her close to him and hid his face in her neck, "Promise me you'll never let her join, Liv. Never."
She was taken back by his sudden request yet she wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders, "El… she's three, I don't think she's signing on the dotted line anytime soon-"
"Promise me," he said again. "Liv, promise me. None of the kids. You can't support them joining. Promise me."
She nodded against him, "Okay… okay. I promise."
He pulled back and nodded to the photo again, "I mean, it's a cute picture, but… I just…," he shook his head, "I don't want our kids in uniform, Liv."
Her brows dipped, "Okay. That's fair… do you want me to throw the picture away?"
"No," he nodded. "No. It's cute, I mean it. I just… I don't know," he took a refreshing breath and changed the subject. "What's in this envelope, huh?"
She grinned as he sat in her chair and pulled her into his lap, "Oh, I think you'll like it."
"Nude photos of you?" he asked as he ran his finger under the flap.
"Not exactly, no," she smiled. "But with this it'll give us more time to explore our possibilities."
He stared at her for a moment. Took her confession into consideration and filed it under things to ask about later. "I'm really starting to like these gifts you're giving, lately," he murmured softly and unfolded the paper.
It took him a moment before his brows raised, "A bill? You gave me a bill?" he asked and looked up at her. "Can't say that's the sexist thing ever, but… ooookay," he drawled.
She swatted him playfully on the chest, "It's a bill for a Help Wanted ad."
"Help wanted?" he furrowed his brows and sneakily grazed her nipple with the pad of his thumb. "You sayin' I'm not getting the job done?"
She covered his hand with her own and pressed his palm firmly against her breast, "Help Wanted ad…. For someone to run this place."
His jaw dropped and then he grinned immediately and moved his hand from her breast to her neck and pulled her close for a kiss. "You're gonna finally higher someone to do the books?"
She smirked, "Yeah… maybe I'll come in a few hours here and there, but, I was holding Abel today and… there's more to life than work."
"Abel showed you that?" Elliot asked in slight awe.
"Yeah," she nodded softly. "I want to be as close to him as I am with the rest of the kids, Elliot and sitting behind this desk… isn't gonna cut it."
"Would you like some more tissue, Sam?" Maggs asked softly.
"Yeah, please," he nodded and felt for the offering of soft cotton. He wiped at his nose and face and shuddered as he exhaled and tried to breathe a little more steady.
"Yeah?" he answered softly.
"Want to tell me why you've been crying since you got here? Did you have a fight with Crystal?"
"Are the boys at school still teasing you because you didn't know what masturbation was?"
Sam sniffled and shrugged slowly, "A little… they laugh still. I didn't tell Mom or Dad, but… that's not why I'm… I'm…" he exhaled in frustration. "I don't know what I am."
"Are you still having a hard time with Abel?" she asked and crossed her legs, focusing on the young boy in front of her.
"Do you think I'm old enough to meet my dad?" he asked simply.
Maggs' dark brows arched in confusion, "Sam, you see your dad everyday, don't you?"
"No," Sam exhaled, "I mean, my real dad… do you think I'm old enough to meet him?"
Maggs took a long breath, "That's a pretty huge step to take, Sam… have you been thinking about it much?"
"Since Abel came to live with us," he admitted and ran his hand through his hair. "My hair… I have to have my mom cut it again."
Magg's nodded absently, "Samuel… what is it about Abel that makes you want to know your fath-"
Sam rose in instant anger and yelled in Maggs' direction, "I don't want to know him like that!" he hollered, his hands stressed in front of him as the chords of his neck strained and Maggs watched with her mouth agape at his sudden outburst. "I don't! I don't want to be his friend or his son or anything else! I HATE HIM! You understand me! I hate him and I wish he were dead!"
"I wish he were dead," Sam began to cry again and resigned himself to his seat once more as he held his face in his hands and sobbed, "Why didn't he love me, Maggs? Why'd he have to do those things to me? Why couldn't he just love me like my mom and dad do?"
Maggs exhaled slowly and let him cry before she pulled her chair closer to him, "Samuel?"
"What?" he whimpered and wiped at his eyes again.
"What do you think will happen if you were to meet your real father?" she asked gently.
"I'll be strong," he told her adamantly. "I'll be strong and everything will be on the right path."
Maggs tilted her head sensing she was on to something, "Why would meeting your father suddenly made you strong, Sam?"
Sam ran his hand through his hair again and bit his top lip, "I heard my mom and dad talking one day and… I hear them a lot and I figured out that the man who hurt her was Abel's dad."
Maggs' brow arched and she was shocked, truly shocked, "Oh… you're mom must be making a major adjustment-"
"He's also supposed to be my uncle, 'cause he was her brother so that makes him my uncle, right?"
Maggs was thankful Sam couldn't see the shock written as clear as day across her face, "R-right…She must have a big heart," she said because really, that's all she could say due to the shock.
"Well, see," Sam started again and his leg bounced frantically in uneasiness, "I heard them talkin' and… she went to see her brother and then she got Abel and today… you should'a heard her voice Maggs, she was… happy and strong and she sounded like she could do anything and when I asked her questions, when I asked her hard questions she didn't get all weird like she used too and I asked her if Abel made her strong and she said yes."
Maggs licked her lips not quite making the connection, "S-"
"So you see, Mom confronted him and made him know by taking Abel that she wasn't scared anymore, and now she's strong, so I gotta go to my dad so he knows I'm not scared either and then everything will be okay."