A/N: The end, sadly, is unavoidable.
DISCLAIMER: SVU and related characters belong to Dick Wolf. Story, dialogue, narrative and plot belong to TStabler©
"How did you let him talk you into this?" Olivia asked, one hand holding onto Josh's as the other rolled the stroller with a sleeping Leyla inside.
Elliot shrugged. "The man needed a favor, baby. And look how cute he is! He isn't a bad dog," he said. "Hey! Kal! Come here boy!" he called, yelling to the spunky German Shepherd a few feet in front of him.
The obedient dog turned and walked swiftly back to Elliot.
"Good boy," Elliot said, scratching under the dog's neck. "It's only for a few days," he said.
Olivia tilted her head. "Yeah, okay," she said. "You know damn well you already love him. His name is Kal-El. As in, Superman? Face it, this was meant to be your dog, Stabler."
Elliot looked up at his wife, from his currently bent position on the floor by the dog. "What?" he asked, making sure he heard her correctly.
Olivia tugged on Josh, pulling him closer to her. "You feed it, you walk it, get the kids to help you..."
"You're serious?" Elliot interrupted. "You want to keep him?" he asked, smiling brightly.
Olivia sighed. "Every family needs a dog, Elliot," she said with a roll of her eyes. "And he is...really cute. And one hell of a watch-dog."
"Yeah," Elliot said, scratching behind the dog's ears. "Who knew the vic he bit was really the perp? He was trying to save his owner's life," he said, rising to his feet.
Cragen, stepping out of his office, said, "He got there too late, but he never left the girl alone. That's why we assumed..."
"Yeah," Elliot interrupted, choosing not to hear about work. "We just came for the dog. Fin said he needed a new home, we wanna give him one."
Cragen held up a leash and a Ziploc bag filled with kibble. "Go with God, you son of a bitch," he said to the dog as Elliot took the things out of his hands. "Munch needs a new desk and I need new shoes."
"We weren't his owners when he did that," Olivia said, lifting Josh into her arms. "You can't hold us responsible."
Cragen laughed, then poked Josh in the stomach, making him giggle. "So when are you two coming back to work?" he asked, looking from Olivia to Elliot.
Elliot folded his arms. "Four months," he said. "You know that, why are you asking?"
"Because I'm retiring in three," Cragen said, putting his hands on his hips.
Olivia's eyes widened. "What? Cap, when did you..."
"Penny and I talked about it, and I've got plenty of time on the job. The severance package is great and my pension plan is wonderful," Cragen said his eyes darting between them. "I want to be home with my wife and son, and I want to be able to watch my grandkids during the day. Live the life I should have been living this whole time."
Elliot nodded in understanding. "But why did you ask when we were coming back? Whether it's under your supervision or Munch's, parental leave is..."
"I want you to do it," Cragen said, looking seriously at Elliot.
"Me?" Elliot asked, stunned.
Cragen nodded. "You're younger, faster, you have one hell of a temper which means you'll scare the shit out of anyone before they can give you any problems. You're an arrogant hot-head, meaning you won't stop until you get what you want, and everyone in this unit respects you. I won't have to worry about IAB being up your ass, either," he said with a hint of a smirk. "You've got the makings of a great captain. That is...if your partner can let you go."
Elliot and Cragen looked at Olivia, who was shifting Josh in her arms. "Lemme think," she said. "Take a lot of his shit and have him boss me around for the same amount of money I get, or actually let him earn the right to be a complete ass at work? Hard choice," she joked.
"Liv," Elliot said, crossing his arms, offended.
Olivia leaned over and kissed him. "I'm teasing you, you big baby. Honey, you told me once that you didn't want to be a detective forever. Maybe this is..."
"I meant, like, I'd retire when I was sixty and write cheesy, mystery novels," Elliot interrupted. "I don't...I really don't want to be the...can I say no?"
Cragen smirked. "You can," he said. "But if the only reason you're saying no is because you don't trust anyone else with your wife, then I would think long and hard about making that your final answer."
Elliot swallowed hard and looked at Olivia. "What do you think?" he asked, raising his eyes.
"El, baby," Olivia said, turning her body to face him head on, "I want whatever you want. It would mean more money, less time in the field for you, more responsibility...it's got its pros and cons, but you can't tell me you don't want it. Say yes, say no, I will back you up, just like I always have."
Elliot held her gaze for a minute, then he looked at the boy in her arms, the girl in the stroller, and thought about the four kids who were across town in classrooms. "We need the money," he mumbled, "And it would be really nice to be..."
"In charge?" Cragen asked with a smirk.
"The man?" Olivia quipped, nudging him with her elbow.
Elliot shook his head. "I was gonna say, it would be really nice to not have to be the one that tells the parents," he said. "To not have to look the girls in the eyes and see the fear, and the hate, and..." he licked his lips and shook his head. "I can't let Liv do all of that on her own. I can't let her do that without me," he declared.
Cragen sighed and said, "So don't. You'd be in charge, you could..."
"Keep her in here," Elliot finished for him. "She'd work with the vics and handle interrogations," he said, his eyes lighting up.
"Uh, excuse me, Captain Stabler, aren't you jumping the gun a bit, here?" Olivia said, not liking what he was talking about.
Elliot turned to her. "Liv, you were talking about quitting, you didn't want to have to work twenty-hour days then go home and take care of five kids," he reminded her. "Less work, less hours, you'd never get another midnight call to a crime scene."
You talked me out of it!" Olivia said, cradling Josh.
Elliot sighed and looked at Cragen. "We will talk about this at home, and you'll have an answer tomorrow."
Cragen nodded. "Make the decision together," he said.
"We will," Elliot said. He grabbed the dog's leash and pulled, and the dog followed closely as the family walked out of the squad room.
"I told you he was going to turn it down," Polly said, walking out of the interview room.
Cragen nodded, turning to her, and he said, "You also said Munch and Alex were having another boy."
"I didn't," Polly said shaking her head. "I said they would name the baby Sam."
"Yeah," Cragen said, then his smirk faded. "Samantha," he said. "Do you always have to be right?" he asked, following her into his office.
ONE YEAR LATER
"Benson," the captain said, coming out of his office. He dropped a pile of paperwork on Olivia's desk. "This needs to get done. You're the only one around that can do it, since you're on ass-duty. Get a move on."
She turned from her spot at the coffee table, narrowed her eyes at the man, and moved to lunge for him, but two strong arms held her back. "Liv," her partner's voice whispered in her ear, "Relax. He's only giving you paperwork because you punched that guy in interrogation this morning. This guys an ass, baby."
"You couldn't have just taken the job?" she hissed, turning to him.
Elliot chuckled. "So I can have you looking at me like that? No way. I am your partner. I will always be your partner. We talked about it, and we both decided..."
"Yeah," Olivia said, shrugging her shoulders and getting his arms off of her. "So, partner, you gonna help me with this shit, since you're the reason I punched that guy?"
Elliot smirked as he sat across from her, where he belonged. "Maybe," he said.
"Maybe?" Olivia asked, sipping her coffee. "Maybe I'll sleep in one of the guest rooms tonight, maybe I'll leave you all alone in that beg bed..."
"Shut up," Elliot chuckled, picking up a file. "I was thinking," he said, running his pen over the document.
"Did it hurt?" Fin called from his right.
Elliot turned and furrowed his brow. "Listen, crab-ass, don't take your lack of sleep out on me."
Fin chuckled. "Man, babies take a lot outta ya," he said, shaking his head. "We've only got two. I can't imagine what your life is like," he said throwing a hand in their direction. "Seven, shit," he mumbled, shaking his head.
"Six," Elliot said, raising an eyebrow. "Fin, you know how many kids we have," he said, giving his friend a look.
Fin looked at Olivia, smirking. "You didn't..."
"So, you were thinking?" Olivia interrupted. "About what?" she asked, smiling brightly.
Elliot leaned back, looking at her. He tilted his head and took a good look at her. "Slightly bigger boobs, more irritable than usual, you woke me up at three in the morning to...holy shit," he gasped. "You're..."
"Surprise," Olivia said, tossing a photo on his desk, interrupting him. "Or it was supposed to be! Thank you, Big-Mouth Tutuola."
Fin laughed. "Hey, Casey told me, she didn't say it was supposed to be a surprise."
"Really?" Elliot asked, excited.
"Yes. We are having another child, Elliot. I swear, you eat too much protein," Olivia said, running a hand through her hair.
Elliot got out of his chair, holding the sonogram in his hand, and he knelt down in front of her. "I was thinking," he said with a teary-eyed smile, "That we should have another baby. Leyla's a year old, Josh is begging for a little brother." He let a tear roll down his cheek and looked into his wife's eyes. "How do you always know what I'm thinking?" he asked her softly. "How do you always know what I want?" he questioned, leaning in to kiss her.
Olivia heard the captain's door open again, and she put both of her hands on Elliot's shoulders to keep him from kissing her. "After all this time," she whispered, gazing into his incredible blue eyes, "It's really unavoidable."
A/N: THE END. Happy and Fluffy. But...who's the new captain? Maybe there will be a sequel...
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