A/N: Family tragedy strikes, and Olivia might be the only glue holding Elliot together.
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and characters. TStabler© owns the story and its contents.
Elliot sat in his parents living room, still wearing his tux, surrounded by his family and several cops. A few of them came up to him, offering their condolences, going so far as to take off their caps if they were wearing them. He had Olivia in his arms, she was clutching him tightly, still wearing her dress. He couldn't bring himself to cry.
"El," Olivia whispered to him, "You don't have to..."
"I'm not being strong, or hiding my feelings," he told her, knowing what she was thinking. "I just didn't really ever get close to him, Liv. He used me like his own personal punching bag, which is why I joined the Marines as soon as I could. I needed to get away from, and that was my only logical option."
Olivia said nothing, only held him tighter. "He was my father," he whispered. "My father just...and I can't...I don't feel anything, Liv."
"Detective Stabler," a young uniformed officer said, striding up to him, "Your mother, uh, well, um...she's dancing, sir."
Elliot grabbed Olivia's hand and pulled her toward the couch. "Yeah, Swanson," Elliot said, his eyes closing in defeat, "I know." He sat next to his mother, pulled Olivia down on his lap, and said, "Mom, you gotta stop now, okay?"
His mother, Bernie, looked down at him, lowered her arms, and narrowed her eyes. "Elliot, your father would have wanted us to dance. Celebrate his life, not mourn his death. Besides," she said, suddenly sounding bitter, "He wanted to die. I'm not going to cry if this is what the son of a bitch wanted."
"Mom," Elliot sighed, "Please, don't do this."
"He did this, Elliot," Bernie said. "He left us. He chose to..." she paused, breaking down into her son's arms. "He's gone, Elliot. He's gone," she sobbed, wrapping one arm around Elliot, the other around Olivia, and squeezing as she cried.
Elliot's two sisters sobbed quietly, watching their mother cry as their brother didn't shed a single tear.
"Who the fuck are you?" a harsh voice spat, the man glaring at Olivia.
Elliot turned to see his brother, Andrew, red-eyed, angry, and sneering at the woman sitting on his lap. "Andy, man," he began, but his brother stopped him.
"Who the hell is she, Elliot? Why the fuck did you bring her here?" Andrew barked, his voice rising. "There shouldn't be anyone but family here!"
"Andy," Elliot snapped, "She's my wife, man!"
"Wife?" Andrew asked, shocked. "When the fuck did you get married? She's like, twelve!"
"It was a spur of the moment thing, man," Elliot said, sighing, dropping his head to Olivia's. "And she's eighteen, Andy."
Andrew stepped forward, eyed Olivia up and down, and said, "She's the bitch from that stupid dancing job you had, isn't she? The one you kept crying about when you were in cop school."
"Woah, man!" Elliot barked, nudging Olivia off him to rise out of the seat. "Watch how you talk about her!"
"Hey!" Olivia spat, holding up the baby monitor. "Sleeping child! Keep it under a hundred decibles, would ya?"
"Fucking hell, you knocked her up," Andrew maligned.
Elliot gritted his teeth, swallowed back the urge to hit his brother, and said, "We have an adopted son and, yes, we're expecting a baby of our own."
Bernie smiled, resting a hand on Olivia's knee. "Isn't that wonderful, Andy? In the midst of all of this sad death, there is new love and life."
Andrew looked at his mother, blankly. "You knew about this?"
"Yes," Bernie said. "You know Elliot could never marry a woman I didn't like."
Andrew scoffed. "Yeah," he spat. "Fuckin' momma's boy. Did you marry her because you knocked her up, or because you wanted to get in her pants?"
"Andy!" Elliot yelled. "No, man! I married her because I love her you asshole!"
"Oh, I'm the asshole?" Andrew laughed. "You're the one who fucking abandoned the entire damned family to play ninja with the damned Army just because you couldn't handle a little rough, tough love from Dad."
"Tough love? He almost killed me, Andy!" Elliot yelled, the tears finally coming. "I didn't abandon my family! I joined the Marines, not the Army, to do something, make something of myself hoping, praying that he'd be proud of me! I came back and he still fucking hated me! God damn it, Andy, he was my father! He should have protected me! He should have loved me," he shouted, the tears falling. "I'm not not gonna miss him, Andy. I'm sorry, but I'm not. But I am gonna be sorry, for the rest of my life, that he wasn't the kind of father I deserved. He was not the kind of father I'm gonna be to the baby my wife is carrying, right now!"
Andy blinked, his lower lip trembling. Suddenly, he rushed at his brother, pulling him into his arms. "I'm so sorry, Elliot. I don't know why I...I don't know how to deal with this. I actually loved the son of a bitch. I didn't mean to...God, he was my father. I loved him."
"I know you did, Andy," Elliot said, slapping him on the back, comforting him the way only a brother could.
Andy took a deep breath, pulled away from Elliot, and looked at Olivia. "She's quiet," he said.
"She's uncomfortable," Olivia said, raising an eyebrow. "I'm Olivia. Your sister-in-law."
"Andy," Andrew said, sniffling. "Sorry we had to meet like this. I'm sorry for that, uh, outburst and I'm sorry you never got to meet our father. He was a good guy."
Olivia snorted. "To you," she said. "He wasn't too good to Elliot, was he? Meaning, he wouldn't have liked me very much then. I make Elliot happy, therefore he would have considered me evil."
"Wow, Elliot. Beauty and brains," Andrew said. "You know how to pick 'em."
"I just got lucky," Elliot said. "Very lucky." He was about to say something else when the tiny cry of Jacob sounded through the monitor in Olivia's hands.
"I'll go," Elliot and Olivia said at the same time, both eager to get out of the cramped, crowded, tense living room. They looked at each other and nodded, climbing the stairs to the bedroom where they'd set up the crib.
Elliot reached the portable bed first, scooping the boy into his arms, and walked him over to the bed, laying him down to change him. "Liv," he said, softly, "You know Andy didn't mean..."
"El, please, don't. You just lost your father. So did he. Neither one of you can be held responsible for what comes out of your mouths," Olivia said, putting a dry diaper on the baby.
"No one talks to you, or about you, like that," Elliot said, looking at her with a fire in his eyes she'd only seen once before, when he was yelling at Dean.
Olivia picked the baby up, as he'd already drifted back to sleep, resting him over her shoulder as she walked back toward the crib. She placed him down into it and turned to face Elliot, stepping closer into his open arms. "You can cry, El. It's okay to admit that, despite what he did to you, you loved him. I have to live the with the fact that a part of me still loves my evil bitch of a mother, don't I? It's okay to be mad at him for giving up the way he did, and it's okay to cry in front of me. I'm not gonna think any less of you." She paused, smirked at him, and looped her arms around his waist. "In fact, I'll think less of you if you don't, you cold-hearted monser." She kissed him quickly, letting him know she was only teasing him.
Elliot let out a strangled laugh, it was getting caught on his sob, and he wrapped his arms around his wife as he let twenty-two years of unexpressed emotion toward his father pour out of him. They clutched onto each other, for dear life it seemed, and collapsed onto the bed. He would be breaking, falling apart at the seams, if she hadn't been there, crying with him.
"Liv," he sniffled, pulling away slightly, looking into her moist eyes, "Baby, why are you crying? You didn't even know him."
"I'm crying because you're crying," she told him, the barest crackle in her voice. "When you hurt, I hurt. Not to mention, I'm pregnant, so a tender moment on Family Guy makes my fucking cry."
Elliot chuckled through his tears, loving the way she knew how to say the right things, at the right times. Her presence alone was making this easier. "I'm sorry my father killed himself during your prom," he said. "He always did have a habit of ruining the most important moments of my life."
"He didn't ruin it, El," Olivia said, thumbing away his tears. "In a way, he made tonight truly special. He's not suffering anymore. He brought your family back together, baby. It was a horrible way to reconnect, but I met your sisters, who really like me, and your brother, who apparently thinks I'm smart and pretty. Oh, and we found Fin, or he found us," she said with a sad smile. "Tragic as your father's death is, it's breathing new life into your family, El."
Elliot smiled at Olivia, amazed at how truly remarkable she was. "Our family, baby," he said, brushing his thumb over her lips. He kissed her tenderly and said it again, making sure she understood that she wasn't alone anymore. "It's our family."
A/N: Next, Olivia graduates, and her new family gives her a surprise. Elliot, however, gives her a bigger one! Then, a summer they'll never forget, when Elliot takes her back to where it all started.