A/N: The last neighbor moves in, and all seems to be well.
DISCLAIMER: SVU and related characters/ideas belong to Dick Wolf. Original plot and dialogue belong to TStabler©
The weeks following the shooting passed by quickly, but each moment was seared into the memories of the Stabler clan. Kathy's funeral made them all feel relief and guilt, the legal matters they had to deal with gave Olivia and Elliot headaches, building and painting the nursery brought them together and made them all excited for the impending arrival of the newest Stabler baby. They had just gotten over the loss of a few former friends and their kids' mother, and now they were watching someone else move in next door. Another new neighbor.
She was peering out the window, one hand resting on her round belly, and she sighed. "You think this is it?"
He hummed and wrapped his arms around her. "It'd better be," he said. "We've gone through more neighbors than necessary. Hell, we lived upstairs from Cragen, for crying out loud. So as long as it isn't him again…"
She laughed, breaking into his speech. "Oh, God," she said, rolling her eyes. "What if it's Alex again?"
"Hmmm, no, please," he said, moving her hair aside and kissing the back of her neck. "Oh, I got it. It's my brother."
She raised an eyebrow. "That's not funny."
He nodded. "It's kind of…"
"No, really, it's not," she said, turning around in his arms. "Anyone but your brother. How the two of you even come from the same family is beyond me."
He chuckled. "He isn't that bad," he said, beginning to sway her in his arms.
She didn't notice. She just rolled her eyes again. "El, he's rude. He burps and farts and he sits on Dickie's head! He's obnoxious, he's more arrogant than you are." She ran her hands up his arms and said, "And ya know, he keeps trying to feel me up…we had him here for dinner and he asked if I was dessert."
"And you don't think we're related?" he asked with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.
She chuckled and shook her head. "It's sexy when you do it," she said, scrunching her nose at him.
"Because I'm the sexy Stabler," he declared. He pulled her closer, tighter, and swayed slower.
"And the romantic one," she said, kissing him.
He chuckled. "Clearly." He grabbed her hand, spun her around, and dipped her, kissing her as he brought her back up.
She laughed, leaning into him. "You pick the most random times to dance with me," she observed.
"I told you," he said, smiling as he moved her around the living room, "That I will always make time for romance."
She kissed him, and he stopped moving. His hands dropped her and wound around her body, her arms looped around his neck, and just as they became lost in the kiss, the doorbell rang.
"I think someone up there gets some kind of sick pleasure out of ruining our perfect moments," he complained with a sigh. He gave her a peck on the lips and walked over to the door, opened it, and had to stop himself from groaning out loud. "Hey, Ed," he said with a nod.
"Hey," Tucker said, nodding in return. "I just wanted to know…who usually trimmed the hedges? You or Kathy?"
"Me, why are you…" Realization struck him hard and fast. "You bought the house next door?"
Ed sighed and nodded. "I did, yeah. I missed a lot of time with my family, Elliot. I owe it to myself to be here. Especially now that I'm gonna have a niece and a nephew running around."
"Niece?" Olivia questioned, stepping next to Elliot.
Ed nodded. "Simon's having a girl."
"Oh," Olivia said, giving him a small smile. "Sarah said she didn't wanna know."
Ed shrugged. "She doesn't," he said. "Simon asked the doctor, he isn't gonna tell her."
Elliot scoffed. "Nice," he said.
"It's what they want," Tucker said. He looked at Olivia and said, "If you need anything, anything at all, I will be right next door."
"Actually," Olivia said, a smirk playing at her lips. "There is one thing you can do for me."
"Name it," Ed said, willing to do whatever he had to do to prove he loved her.
She moved toward the coffee table, flipped her phone open, and copied down a number on a sticky note. She peeled it off the pad, walked back to Elliot's side, and handed it to Ed. "Call this woman," she said. "Take her to dinner. Don't be an asshole."
Ed looked down at the note and furrowed his brow. "This is Fuller…"
"I know whose number it is," Olivia interrupted. "Just do it. You'll thank me."
Ed raised an eyebrow at her, but sighed and said, "All right." He shook Elliot's hand and walked down the path, across the driveway, over to his new home.
"How about that," Elliot said, staring after Ed.
Olivia shook her head. "At least we know he won't try to kill us," she said, folding her arms over her baby-bump.
He chuckled. "Or watch us have…"
"Don't finish that sentence," she said, stopping him. She tugged on his sleeve as he laughed and he followed her into the living room and closed the door. She sighed and rubbed her belly. "Few more months, then we meet this little guy."
"I can't wait," he said, smiling.
"Mom?" Maureen called from the bottom of the stairs.
Olivia turned to look at the girl, and she smiled. "What is it, sweetie?"
Maureen grinned and walked over to her parents, sat on the couch, and said, "I know you don't have a lot of time before the baby comes, and I know you and Dad didn't really get a honeymoon."
"Maur," Elliot said, his eyes narrowing, "What are you getting at, pumpkin?"
Maureen looked up at her father. "I want you two to take this," she said, handing her father a white envelope. "I don't need it. I've got a full scholarship at school, and my job at the bookstore is more than enough for the few things I need."
Elliot furrowed his brow and opened the envelope. "Mo, where did you get this?" he asked, his voice sounding soft, surprised.
Maureen shrugged and bit her lip. "Kathy," she said. "She left one for each of us, and Mister Henshall said we could do whatever we wanted with them. I want you two to use it, go somewhere tropical, forget about everything that's happened and…"
Olivia looked up at Elliot, who had tears in his eyes. She looked back at her stepdaughter and gave her a soft smile. "Honey, we can't…"
"Yes you can, Mom," Maureen said, interrupting. "I already called Captain Cragen. I'm gonna sit with you tonight, book a flight, and you're leaving Monday morning, wherever you wanna go."
"Sweetheart," Elliot said, wrapping his daughter in his arms. "This is just…awesome."
Maureen laughed as she hugged her father. "You and Mom deserve it," she said. "Besides, you aren't going to have a lot of time to yourselves anymore. Uncle Simon and his family are gonna be over here every weekend for football games. Uncle Ed's next door being our own, personal secret service. You've got four teenagers and you're about to have a baby. Lord knows he's not gonna be your only one," she explained. "With our family, and all of these friends and neighbors here all the time, you need to spend a little time alone and away while you can."
Elliot and Olivia laughed, both hugging the girl, and they each kissed her on the cheek. She got up and walked back toward the steps, turning around to look at her parents one more time. She smiled at the sight of them, dancing to no music, smiling, kissing, and she knew that her life was finally the way she'd wanted it all along.
She climbed the stairs with a smile on her face, thanking God that her father bought an apartment next to Olivia's almost a year ago.
That's how it began, she realized. They were friends. Then they were neighbors. Now they were a family. The road to get here was long and bumpy, but they'd gotten here together.
As she closed the door to her bedroom and looked out her window, watching her Uncle Ed hanging motion-activated cameras in the driveway, Maureen knew that her family's real journey had only just begun.
It was going to be one hell of a ride.
A/N: The End!