Disclaimer: Still not mine... though one day Mr Wolf and I may come to some arrangement.

xoxoinnocenceoxox

EPILOGUE

(Thanks Britt)

The following year…

Elliot sat and watched as Olivia tried to sleep. She had shifted numerous times and it was plainly evident she was uncomfortable but still he couldn't help but smile.

"What are you smirking at?" she growled, with one eye still closed.

"You're so beautiful, Livia," he replied, flashing a huge grin and hoping she'd reciprocate.

"You're an ass!" she grumbled. "Now, quit watching me."

She rolled over as best she could but even she couldn't help but smile at the events which had gotten them to this point.

Six months earlier

Olivia opened her eyes and tried to take in the still dimly lit hotel room. Glancing at the clock she was surprised to see the red numbers illuminated; 8:23. The heavy drapes had blocked out the morning sun. She looked down to find Elliot still sleeping soundly in the same position he'd fallen asleep the night before. His head was resting just below her breasts, as he lay on top of her, their bodies diagonal on the king sized bed.

"El," she called, running her fingers through his hair. "Elliot!"

"Mmm, what?" he mumbled, his eyes still too heavy to open.

"Ell…iot?" she called in a more sing-song voice, wanting him to be alert.

"More?" he grinned, opening his eyes and looking up at her.

"Not yet," she smiled. "I just thought I'd tell you I just woke up and it's 8:23."

"Still so early," he replied, with a yawn.

"Yeah, but I just woke up," she said, trying to get him to see her point.

"Yeah?" he yawned again. "Want breakfast?"

She shook her head; she was going to have to paint him the picture. "Elliot, it was 8:23 when I woke up this morning … when I woke up for the first time since we fell asleep last night at 11:00 or so … 8:23."

He looked at her strangely for a few moments.

"8:23," he repeated. "And you just woke up." And then it dawned on him. "So, you slept through the night … as in the whole night … as in not waking up at 3:00?"

"Yay, now you get it," she grinned, tapping his face.

Elliot wriggled further up her body. "I must have really exhausted you last night," he grinned proudly.

"Oh, I think it was more than that," Olivia replied, not wanting to boost his ego more than necessary.

"I don't know … four times in an hour and a half … a new record for us, don't you think?" he boasted.

"It could have been exhaustion, you know, with everything leading up to the wedding yesterday," she offered, stroking his head.

"Nah, think it was everything after the wedding," he chided, kissing her neck.

"Well, becoming Mrs Stabler was a lot of work … with the caterers and the flowers and the dresses and …"

"Well, I get your point," he conceded, somewhat deflated.

"But you could be right," she countered, "I think it was more you."

"Told you so," he replied, his grin back in place.

"I was just thinking it was the pregnancy but as that was you too… then…" she began.

"Pregnancy? You're pregnant? When? Where? How?" The questions spewed forth without Olivia having a chance to respond.

"Yes, we are pregnant," she said, slowly. "About eleven weeks now so where would most likely be that B&B in Vermont … as for how, well, you were there, so you know how."

Elliot kissed her thoroughly from her mouth to her still flat belly and then back up once more.

"I take it you're happy?" she asked, her eyes glistening with tears.

"Absolutely ecstatic," he replied kissing her once more. "You?"

"I'm …" The words wouldn't come but her tears did. She couldn't find the words to describe her feeling of pure, unadulterated joy.

"Livia?" he asked, not too sure what the tears meant.

"Happy …" she managed to get out as she held onto him.

"So, they're good tears?" he checked, just like he'd done in the shower after they'd made love for the first time.

"Extremely good tears," she replied, wiping her eyes. "I found out three weeks ago and I wanted to keep it as a surprise for our wedding."

"Thank you," he replied, kissing the trails of her tears away.

"For what?" she whispered.

"Thank you for marrying me … for carrying my child … for keeping it a surprise … for loving me … for being you … for loving my family, our family … for everything," he answered as his own tears of happiness fell.

"Ditto," she responded. "Well, not for carrying this one," she said, patting her stomach. "But for giving him or her to me, to us."

"You have a preference?" he asked, wrapping her tightly in his arms. "Girl or boy?"

"No, I just want this little one to be happy … not to have to go through everything we did. It's not asking too much is it?" Olivia asked, gazing deeply into his still teary blue eyes.

"No, it's not asking too much at all."

"It's not asking too much is it?" Olivia screamed at Elliot as he jumped to his feet from the nearby chair. "Is it? Is it?" she demanded. Elliot paused. He wasn't sure whether it was or wasn't too much. He wasn't sure what the question referred to and he really wasn't sure of the most appropriate response. "For god's sake, Elliot!"

"Livvy," he began quietly, as he approached her. "Take a breath."

"Don't tell me what to fucking do," she yelled into his face. "Haven't you done enough already?! This is all your fault." He couldn't help but smile. It was his fault, sort of. "You're smiling at me? What the hell's so funny?"

"Do you know how beautiful you are right now?" he asked, a quiet confidence back in his voice.

His gentle manner and loving gaze were enough to soothe her, at least for now.

"I'm so sorry," she cried, tears streaming down her face. "I don't mean to be horrible."

"I know, Livia," he said, leaning over the bed and kissing her forehead. "Having a baby brings out the best and worst."

"The nurse says I'm only 3cm dilated… how can that be? I've been in labour for a week," Olivia grumbled, trying to adjust herself in the uncomfortable hospital bed.

"It's only been four hours, Liv," he reassured her at his own peril.

"Four hours? You're telling me it's only been four hours? Like four hours isn't long enough? Huh? Huh?" she ranted.

"No, I'm not saying that," Elliot backtracked. "Four hours is a long time."

"How would you know? Don't just agree with me for the sake of it. If you don't think four hours is long enough then have the balls to say it," she yelled at him.

"I think four hours is plenty long enough," he replied and it was. The previous four hours seeming to last an eternity, and something he didn't want to repeat in a hurry.

"You bet it's long enough. You just try pushing a watermelon out your dick and tell me it's only four hours!" she said in a huff and turned away from him.

As the hours passed things failed to improve, for Elliot anyway, every kind or gentle gesture was received with either tears or tirade. He couldn't help but think of the previous three pregnancies he'd been a part of, none of them anything near what he was experiencing now. While Kathy had slapped him during the twins' delivery and called him every name under the sun during Maureen's arrival, he had never been concerned for his own safety. But Olivia was different; he knew she could inflict some serious damage if he wasn't careful, particularly as she was aiming for a most sensitive area.

Nine hours into the labour, Elliot was banished to the waiting room; Olivia finally fed up with him. It was there Kathy found him as she arrived with the Lizzie and Kathleen.

"Rough going, El?" Kathy asked, resting her arm on his slumped form.

"Yep," he grumbled, sitting up to face his family.

"How's Liv doing?" Lizzie asked, looking towards the door.

"The doctor says she's doing well," he answered, scrubbing a hand over his face.

"Can we see her?" she asked eagerly.

"If you're brave enough," he sighed. "Just knock and check with her."

Lizzie and Kathleen disappeared into Olivia's room.

/./

"What's up, El?" Kathy asked, sitting down beside him.

"Well, according to Livia I'm a cross between the devil himself and every imaginable kind of ass," he said with the shake of his head.

"And?" she smiled, as if the description was an accurate representation.

"Isn't that enough?" he snapped. "I mean I know I got her pregnant but I think I've been pretty good throughout it.

"You know it's just the hormones, she doesn't mean it," Kathy soothed, rubbing his back.

"I know but still…" he grumbled, being hungry and exhausted weren't helping his mood.

"Dickie and Mo will be here soon," she said, changing the topic.

"Aha," he nodded, not really listening.

"Elliot, do want me to go and talk to her?" Kathy offered, gesturing towards the door.

"I can't ask you to do that," he stated forlornly. "Can I?" he added with a note of hope.

"You don't have to ask…I'll do it anyway," she smiled, kissing his head as she stood. "Liv will be fine … and so will you."

After Kathy entered Olivia's room, Kathleen and Lizzie exited; a wad of notes in Lizzie's hand.

"Mom says to take you to the cafeteria and feed you," Lizzie said, taking her father's arm.

"Thanks but I'd rather stay here," he answered. "Just in case Liv needs me."

"Well, Liv says if she looks out the door and sees you here she'll kick your butt into next week," Kathleen added. "And I think she meant it."

With little choice Elliot left with his daughters.

../..

"How are you doing, Liv?" Kathy asked, drawing up a chair to the bedside.

"I've been better," Olivia grumbled. "I feel like a ten tonne whale … or at least like a woman trying to pass a ten tonne whale."

Kathy patted her arm. "It's worth it though. When it's all over and you have that little bundle in your arms, all this becomes a distant memory."

"Sure," she sighed. "Just all disappears, right?"

"Right," Kathy nodded. "Of course bourbon and Valium have their place too."

Olivia laughed and laughed until a contraction started and changed the laughter to screams. "Oh, sweet mother of God," she yelled as she gripped Kathy's hand hard. "Come out already."

When the contraction passed, Kathy grabbed the towel and wiped Olivia's forehead, before offering her a sip of water.

"I can't believe you did this four times," Olivia said, slumping back into the pillow.

"Well, three actually," she corrected. "Three pregnancies, four births … lucky me, hey?"

"Yeah, you are lucky, you have beautiful kids," she said, rubbing her belly.

"And so do you," Kathy smiled, acknowledging the shared role in the lives of the Stabler children. "This one will be no different."

"I don't know about that," Olivia admitted, her eyes clouding over.

"What don't you know, Liv?" she asked gently.

Not able to find the words, Olivia sat there and stared at Kathy. She didn't know how to voice her concerns; she couldn't do it with Elliot and didn't think she should do it with Kathy.

"Livvy, I hope you don't mind me asking," Kathy began gently, "but are you scared?"

"Um," Olivia hesitated. "Not so much scared as absolutely terrified," she admitted, tears cascading down her cheeks.

"Why, honey?" Kathy asked, sitting up on the bed.

"It will be this big," she said, holding her hands apart in reference to the baby's size. "I don't know how to deal with things that size. I've never had a pet, not had friends with babies that I was close to, not had…"

"Liv, it's natural to be nervous with your first," Kathy comforted her. "I was petrified."

"You were? It's always seemed so second nature to you … like you were born to it," Olivia said, swiping at her tears.

"That only came with practice," Kathy smiled. "When the midwife handed Maureen to me as we were leaving the hospital I burst into tears and I don't think I stopped for the first month."

"Really?" she asked surprised.

"Yeah, really," she nodded, Olivia gripping her hand as she had another contraction.

Glancing up at the wall clock, Kathy noted the time.

"Two minutes apart, Liv," she said, wiping her brow once more. "It won't be long."

"Oh god," Olivia sighed. "Is there anyway to stop it? I don't think I can do this."

"Of course you can!" Kathy said emphatically. "You are strong and determined and can do anything you put your mind to."

"Thanks, Kathy," she said warmly.

"You know you could have talked to me about this before today," Kathy reminded her.

"I just didn't think … well, with Elliot …" Olivia stumbled.

"We have him in common and it does make it difficult at times, I won't deny that, but I think we can make this friendship work, don't you?" she asked.

"Yeah, I do…" she nodded, relieved to have a friend to be there for her.

For a few moments Olivia sat there quietly.

"How much does Elliot hate me right now?" she whispered.

"He doesn't hate you at all," Kathy reassured her. "He loves you very much."
"But I've said some horrible things to him," Olivia sobbed.

"He's okay, concerned about you and probably a little afraid himself," Kathy admitted.

"Afraid of what?" she asked, turning to Kathy.

"Afraid you'll hurt him … physically," Kathy laughed. "I hit him while in labour a few times and caused no damage but you are trained in the art of combat and could do some damage. Why don't I go see where he is?"

"Yeah, thanks, Kathy, for everything," Olivia said, talking her hand. "I really appreciate it."

"Anytime."

/./

It was another four hours before the midwife placed a screaming newborn baby on Olivia's chest.

"Oh, my god," Olivia cried, tears racing down her cheeks. "She's just perfect … she's beautiful. Oh, god, Elliot … she's …she's …"
"She's ours," he grinned, kissing both mother and daughter. "Love you so much, Livia."

"Love you too, El," she sighed, reaching up to kiss him. "Thank you for our little girl."

"Thank you," he echoed. "She's as gorgeous as her mommy."

"You're biased," she grinned, staring at the bundle in her arms. "I can't believe she's here and she's mine … well, ours." Elliot kissed her again, wiping away her tears.

He went to talk but the midwife interrupted them as she needed to talk to Olivia.

"I might just go out and tell the others," he whispered, kissing her forehead. "That okay with you?"

"Yeah," she grinned. "Tell them I love them."

Walking into the waiting room, Elliot was pounced upon by his children.

"Well?" Lizzie and Maureen said in unison.

"Did she have it?" asked Dickie over the top of them.

"What was it?" asked Kathleen as well.

"Hey, guys, give your dad a chance to talk," Kathy said, moving over to the little group.

"Olivia has had the baby, it's a girl!" he grinned broadly. "And she looks just like Liv."

"Whoo hoo, a baby sister – how cute!" exclaimed Lizzie.

"A sister? Dad, I thought we talked about this …" Dickie said with mock exasperation. While all along he had said he wanted a brother, the truth was he was glad he was the only son his father had and that theirs would remain a special bond.

Before the others could give their congratulations, Elliot was summoned back to the delivery suite by a nurse. "Mr Stabler, your wife is bleeding quite heavily and she's calling for you."

Elliot was back inside instantly.

"Liv, Olivia," he called, rushing to her side. Her face was paling, even as he watched. Staff were working on her, trying to control her haemorrhaging and keep her calm.

"El, I'm scared," she whispered as more drugs were administered.

"You'll be fine, baby," he whispered as she clasped his hand. "You'll be fine."

"Mr Stabler, I'll have to ask you to move …" the nurse began. He was about to protest but Olivia chose that moment to pass out and Elliot moved instantly so they could work on her.

For a long while he sat in the armchair in Olivia's room, his newborn daughter beside him. He had held her for the longest time, before settling her back in her crib. His elder children had been in and out to see him and their newest sibling, but in the end Elliot told them to give him some time out, with Olivia still in surgery and it being two in the morning, he was simply exhausted; soon after he fell asleep, slumped awkwardly in the chair.

"Mr Stabler," said Dr Winchester, coming into the room. Elliot was on his feet.

"How is she?" he asked, glancing quickly to his daughter.

"Your wife suffered significant bleeding and we took all appropriate measures. Unfortunately, the blood loss was too much and she went into cardiac failure. I'm so sorry but she didn't make it."

They were words, simple words people used everyday. He knew what each of them meant but trailed together and in reference to his wife, he couldn't comprehend them.

"Mr Stabler," the doctor said, taking his arm and guiding him to the chair. "Is there anyone I can call?"

Elliot looked into the crib before picking up the sleeping infant; he cradled her tightly in his arms as his tears splashed onto her face. This couldn't be happening; there was no way he could be holding her daughter and not her. Not after everything they had been through. Not after everything she'd been through. Finally something beautiful had happened for her and she was gone, not able to enjoy it. Where was the justice in that? What kind of God would allow that?

His tears continued to cascade as sobs wracked his body. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives not the worst.

Elliot sat there and cried and cried, his heart breaking for the tragedy that was this moment. He cried for his own loss and for the baby in his arms, who would never know the love of her mother, a mother who loved her dearly.

"Elliot, El, honey," came a voice through his haze of grief. He could hear it but he couldn't respond. "Elliot, baby…" Elliot finally forced himself to open his eyes and look up to the voice. "Baby, what's wrong?" Olivia was trying to climb out of the bed to get to him.

"Livia, Olivia," he cried. Realising his arms were empty and the baby was still sleeping in the crib, he jumped up from the chair and practically launched himself towards the bed. "Livia," he sobbed, wrapping her in a tight embrace until she groaned in pain. "God, I'm sorry, did I hurt you?"

"No, baby, I'm okay. What's wrong?" she asked, her hands framing his face.

"Bad dream," he croaked, "Very bad dream."

"Wanna share?" she asked, pulling him back to the bed with her.

"No," he replied quickly. "I'm just so glad you're okay, that you're here," he added, smothering her head in kisses. "I love you so much, Liv."

"Love you too, El. I'm fine, sore but fine. They controlled the bleeding without surgery so it's all good," she said, stroking his head, she'd never seen him look so scared in her life.

"It's all good," he echoed, kissing her again.

"Yeah, it is, baby."

For a long while, Elliot was content to just hold her, to enjoy these moments just in case this was the dream and the reality was the nightmare. He inhaled deeply, taking in her shampoo the one with jasmine which he loved. He let his hand dance on her skin, enjoying the soft, silky touch beneath his fingertips. And Olivia let him, as tired and sore as she was she knew he needed this more than she needed to rest. She had a pretty good idea what had happened in his dream and knew had situations been reversed, she would want nothing more than to crawl into his lap and never let him go.

It was the gurgling of their roommate that drew the attention away from themselves and to their newest addition.

"Can you bring her to me, El, please?" Olivia asked, desperate to see her daughter once more. Soon she had the tiny pink bundle in her arms.

Elliot sat up beside them and wrapped one arm around his wife, the other settled on his baby's stomach.

"She's incredible, Liv," he whispered, kissing her temple.

"Just like her daddy," Olivia grinned, leaning into him.

"Just like her mommy," he corrected, kissing her again.

"So, what are we going to call her?" she asked, caressing the baby's cheek. "None of the names on that list suit her."

"I was thinking that myself, babe," he whispered. "Want me to bring the books in tomorrow, we can try again."

"Sounds like a good idea."

The following day, Elliot arrived at the hospital armed with three baby name books, a huge pink teddy bear for his daughter and a bouquet of roses for his wife; twelve red ones, one for each year they had been partners, work and otherwise, and one pink one in the centre for their daughter.

Slowly he opened Olivia's room door, not wanting to disturb her if she was sleeping. She wasn't but he still didn't want to disturb. He stood silently with the door partially ajar as Olivia sat cradling her daughter as Lizzie and Dickie sat on the bed crowding them. The littlest Stabler gurgled happily and the other three watched the newest addition with such awe, their faces reflecting a happiness and an innocence Elliot had thought was lost forever. He had to steady himself as the emotion of the moment threatened to overwhelm him.

"Hi, daddy," cooed Olivia as she spied him at the door.

"Hi, guys," he croaked, coughing to dislodge the lump in his throat. "Hi, Liv," he said, leaning across to kiss her. Lizzie took the teddy as he kissed her.

"Hey, dad, this is so cute," she gushed, squeezing it tightly.

"Hey, dad," said Dickie, taking the books from him.

"These are for you, baby," he said, showing Olivia the flowers.

"Thank you, El, they're beautiful," she smiled gazing lovingly at him.

"So, names," Lizzie said, interrupting the moment. "Picked one yet?"

"No," sighed Olivia. "Didn't think she looked like a Sarah or Rachel."

"Or Amanda or Bianca or Caitlin or Donna or …" Elliot continued to recite the alphabetised list they'd created over many nights of pondering and debating.

"Well, what about Grace, it's Irish and means love?" asked Dickie, taking another peek at his youngest sister, then checking in the book once more.

Olivia and Elliot looked at each other before peering down at the baby in question.

"Perfect!" they exclaimed.

"Grace Elizabeth Stabler," Lizzie announced, leaning down to kiss her sister.

"Elizabeth?" Dickie and Elliot asked in unison.

"What's wrong with naming her after me?" she asked, looking from her brother to her father. "After all, it was me who told Olivia you loved her … if we'd have waited for you to do it, I'd have been a grandma," she sighed.

Olivia laughed, the girl had a point, and a good one at that, and she and Elliot both knew that if their youngest daughter turned out as well as the one currently sitting on the bed, then she would indeed have a fortunate life.

"Grace Elizabeth it is," Olivia smiled.

"Yes!" exclaimed Lizzie, wrapping her arms around mother and daughter. "Love you Grace Elizabeth," she whispered, kissing the baby's head. "Love you too, mom," she added, kissing Olivia's cheek. "I can call you mom, can't I?" she asked quickly. "I asked mom and she said it was okay … so is it? I mean I don't have to … I just thought that …"

"It's more than okay with me," Olivia replied, reaching out to Lizzie.

With ease, Olivia wrapped Lizzie in one arm and held her tightly as Grace cooed and gurgled in her other arm. "Love you, Lizzie."

Elliot stood beside Dickie and wrapped his arms around his only son.

"You're not going to get all mushy, are you, dad?" Dickie asked, noting the tears building in his father's eyes.

"Nah, would I do something like that?" he asked, squeezing him tightly.

"No, you wouldn't," he answered, wrapping his arm around Elliot's waist. "Love you dad," he added quietly, so the girls wouldn't hear.

"Love you too, son," he whispered, holding him a little tighter.

Olivia could only smile, this was the life she always wanted but had never thought possible. Gazing down at her baby she never knew such contentment, such joy. Grace smiled back at her mother, her face radiating innocence, something her parents would move heaven and earth to ensure stayed in place for the rest of her life.

xoxoinnocenceoxox

I truly appreciate the support this story has enjoyed. I'm grateful for those encouraged me to write beyond my original ending and to take this family further on their journey of healing.

To all those who have sent thoughts, prayers and messages of support in recent times, they are sincerely appreciated.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

Thank you and Goodbye.