A/N: Hey! How does Cragen explain? Does he explain at all? What happened to Kathy, anyway? And a cute, family moment.
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and characters. TStabler© owns this story, and all that goes with it.
Cragen's eyes went wide. "Um," he said, trying to look away from Elliot's penetrating, vengeful glare. "Well, see, I was just, um..."
"Don," Elliot said, barking, "What the hell were you doing with my daughter?"
Cragen blinked. "You sure you weren't, uh, dreaming?"
"No!" Elliot snapped. "I was awake, so was Liv! We heard the door open, heard her go back to her room, everything! What the hell were you doing with her?"
"Okay, look," Cragen said, sighing, "I just took her for a ride. I didn't think you'd mind!"
"In the middle of the fucking night, Don? Where could you have possibly gone?" Elliot asked, sounding as if he was interrogating Cragen.
"I needed her help with something," Cragen said. "We were only gone for a few minutes, Elliot."
Elliot fumed. "You're not answering the question, Don!"
Cragen didn't know what to say. He couldn't tell Elliot the truth. That would destroy him, or he'd think Cragen was crazy and call Huang up to evalutate him. Cragen couldn't lie. Any lie that he came up with would piss Elliot off. He thought for a moment. "A surprise," he finally said.
"A surprise," Elliot parroted, skeptical.
"Yes," Cragen said. "I didn't want you or Olivia to, uh, know anything about it. And you know I would never hurt Lizzie, or let her get hurt."
Elliot exhaled. "I know that. But you don't know what...I'm her father, Don. You're a father, and a grandfather. If you realized that one of your kids or grandkids was gone for who knows how long and you had no idea..."
"Is that why you're upset?" Cragen asked, brow furrowed.
Elliot said nothing. He just blinked.
Cragen sighed, not realizing the error in judgement had caused so much damage. "Elliot I never meant to do anything like that, at all. Believe me, I was only trying to help. Make things better. You've got to trust me. Don't you?"
"Yeah," Elliot said, nodding. He shook his head, rolled the tension out of his neck, and said, "Let's go out there before Liv thinks I'm killing you."
Cragen tilted his head. "You two are amazing. There really hasn't been anyone one else since you both were..."
"Fifteen," Elliot said, chuckling in disbelief. "I know. I'll never forget the way she looked when I found her." He closed his eyes, cringing at the painful memory.
"Where were you going when you found her again?" Cragen asked, smirking. He knew, he just wanted to make sure.
"I was, uh, going on a blind date, actually," Elliot laughed. "But I saw Liv in the street, bleeding, broken, and I had to help her. She was...she needed me."
Cragen smiled. "You saved her life before you even knew her name," he said.
"She saved mine, too," Elliot said with a warm look in his eyes. "She really did."
Cragen opened the door and led Elliot out to the sqaudroom, over to his twins and his wife. "Who were you, uh, going out with?"
Elliot shook his head. "I never bothered asking," he said. "All I know is, I never got there. Sent my friend Andy in my place."
"Eckerson, right?" Cragen asked, smirking. "The Marshall?"
"Yeah, that's Andy," Olivia said. "Wasn't he dating the cheerleader who kept hitting on you? Kathy?"
Elliot's eyes widened. "Yeah, yeah he was!" he exclaimed. "Was I supposed to meet Kathy that night? Damn, you really did save my life, baby," he said to Olivia, kissing her forehead. He looked down in her arms, and both kids were sound asleep.
Cragen smiled at the trio, then asked, "You don't know what happened to her do you?"
"No," Elliot said. "Though, there is a Kathy Eckerson at the hospital. She's a nurse. Helps us with rape kits sometimes. I never bothered asking Andy if he got married, since he was always here on business."
"Maybe it's her," Olivia said, shrugging. "Couldn't hurt to ask the next time we're down at Mercy, right?"
"Guess not," Elliot said, chuckling. He picked up sleeping Oliver and draped him carefully over Cragen's shoulder, allowing the surrogate grandpa to spend some time with him before they had to leave.
"Thanks for bringing them down here, Elliot," Cragen said, smiling.
Elliot smiled, wrapping his arms around Olivia, who was still holding Ella. "Anytime," he said, returning the man's smile.
Olivia, Elliot, and the twins got back home an hour later. The babies, sleeping soundly, were put into their cribs and then the happy couple curled up in their bed, to stay close to the little ones. With his arms around his wife, Elliot kissed her neck, suckling gently, and said, "I love you."
"I love you, too," Olivia replied, snuggling into his arms. "Are you really sure you want to stay home for..."
"Absolutely," Elliot said, interrupting as he nodded. "I love being here, not missing a single moment of their lives, of our lives."
"I know you do, baby," Olivia said, caressing the sides of his body.
"Mom!" Maureen's voice yelled, carrying through the house. "Dad, we're home!"
Elliot shot up off the bed and ran out into the hall in time for all of the kids to run up the stairs. "Shh!" He scolded. "The babies are asleep!" He turned into the room and said, "And Mom's halfway there."
Kathleen shrugged and said, "Sorry, Daddy." She walked into her parents room, dropped her bag, and crawled into the bed with her mother.
Lizzie, figuring that looked like a good idea, followed suit, as did Maureen.
"Hey, guys," Elliot said, walking in, followed by his son, "What are you doing?"
Dickie jumped on the bed and found an open spot and said, "Family nap time!"
Elliot shook his head and chuckled, then shrugged. "What the hell," he muttered, climbing into the bed and wrapping Olivia in his arms. Before he closed his eyes, he looked at the huddled mass of kids on his bed. He glanced quickly into the nursery, then looked into the sleepy eyes of his wife. He kissed her, brushed her hair back, and closed his eyes, thinking of their magnificent past, awe-inspiring present, and their wonderful future. He remained oblivious, as did Olivia, to the fact that he owed it all to his youngest daughter and his oldest friend and captain, without whom his life would have never been as incredible as it was now.
Lizzie smiled as she, too, thought of her life, and future. She knew, since Cragen had reminded her, that her life had once been different, but none of that mattered now. She fixed her future, and the futures of her friends and family, and life was now, and always would be, pretty damn perfect for the Cragens, Cassidies and Stablers. She, of course, wouldn't mind taking a quick glimpse into those futures. Just to make sure.
A/N: How does Cragen come up with a surprise for them? Does Lizzie ask Cragen to take a journey into the future? Or does she find a way to see it for herself? Or is this the end of FTF? Only your reviews will decide!