A/N: A baby? A wedding? What happened to Alex? Was she in the courthouse? Who blew it up? Is the end? Is all of the truth finally out?
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and characters, but he certainly didn't create 'em like this. TStabler© did. Story and contents belong to her. Thanks.
The month that had passed since the courthouse disaster had been rough. Casey still hadn't told Trevor about the baby; Alex was trying desperately to be a part of everyone's lives, but failing as they didn't know who she was anymore. Olivia had lost the only father she'd ever known, and tried like hell to keep the pain from taking over. She wanted to be happy on her wedding day, not sad about things she couldn't control. It wasn't enough he was giving her away; she wanted him to be real, like he was for a few short months, when she denied him.
The crime scene unit and the bomb squad had searched endlessly for clues, but came up empty-handed, having no solid leads as to who planted the bomb in the courthouse. Yet today, they put the work on hold and came together in a large, gothic church in midtown.
Cops, lawyers, the technical crew, and of course family and friends all gathered in pews, anxious to witness Olivia Benson finally make a solid commitment to someone. They sat with shaky knees and excited smiles as they prepared to watch Elliot Stabler marry the woman many believed he should have been with a long time ago. The woman he had been with, little did most of them know, for almost as long as he'd known her.
The group gathered to bear witness to a moment of truth, years in the making, when the two souls, minds, bodies, and hearts of "Benson and Stabler" would be unified in front of God and every important person in the city. The day that the secret they'd kept for so long would be a distant memory, their relationship becoming open, honest, and very public.
Don Cragen, standing behind the oak doors, looked to his left. She looked beautiful, and he felt honored and proud beyond belief to be the one giving her away. He took in the sight of her in her white, lace and crystal gown, blinking back tears. He was reminded of the day she walked into the squadroom, and he knew exactly who she was, and he promised that he would love and protect her for as long as he possibly could. Today, he would be passing that responsibility and privilege off to Elliot. He smiled as he remembered how insane their fights were at the beginning of their partnership, and how he went home every night thinking they would eventually have to "fuck it out" if they wanted to stay partners. He realized, looking at her glowing skin as she trembled nervously beside him, that he had misunderstood their refusal to fall in love as aggressive sexual tension. He gave her arm a light squeeze as he clutched it in his own, and their eyes met briefly.
"Are you ready for this?" Casey asked, holding up the train to Olivia's dress as the first chord to the Wedding March echoed through the hall.
"No," Olivia said, shaking her head. "But I'm not backing out now," she said with classic benson determination. She clung to Cragen's elbow and gripped her bouquet so tightly her knuckles were turning white. The doors before her swung open and she took a sharp, almost painful breath, as she realized that the moment she had thought of as nothing more than a whimsical fantasy between lovers was finally happening.
Elliot, at the end of the aisle, stopped breathing as he saw her take her first step toward him. He looked at her, in her gown, and he felt the sting of tears hit the back of his eyes. His nose burned. Flashes of her in his arms, bleeding and convulsing, played in his mind. He felt the rush of fear and panic as the thought of losing her, watching her dying in his arms, came flooding back to him. Images of her lying unconscious in a hospital bed swirled before him. She had almost given her life for him; they almost didn't make it here. He blinked and suddenly, he was back in the moment, watching her step slowly toward him, knowing that she was here, and he was, too, and there was nowhere else he'd rather be.
"Who give this woman to this man?" the priest asked, gesturing to Olivia and then to Elliot.
"I do," Cragen said, his voice cracking. He placed Olivia's hand in Elliot's, kissed her on the cheek, and stepped off to the side, taking a place next to Fin in the line of groomsmen.
Olivia, shaking slightly, passed her bouquet to Casey, who stood beside all of Elliot's daughters and Melinda in matching light pink gowns with milk-chocolate colored sashes.
Casey eyed Trevor from her spot, her hand absently running over her slightly-swollen belly. She tuned out the priest's babbling and waited for Trevor to look at her. He finally turned his head, catching her eyes and smiling. "Hi," she mouthed with a small smile.
Trevor waved, and then pointed at Olivia and Elliot, telling Casey that they should probably be paying attention to two of their best friends taking vows.
Casey nodded, but kept her eyes on Trevor as he turned toeard the aisle. When he looked back at her, her eyes widened and she pointed to her belly.
Trevor furrowed his brow at her, pursing his lips. He had no idea what she was doing.
Casey, nervous, cradled Olivia's roses and rocked them back and forth as she mouthed. "Baby," and pointed to her stomach again.
"What?" Trevor yelled, his eyes wide, forgetting for a moment that he was in a church, at a wedding.
Olivia, Elliot, the priest, and all one-hundred guests turned their heads to the groomsmen, staring at Trevor.
Trevor cleared his throat. "What…a lovely thing to say. Elliot, that was beautiful. Excuse me," he said, stepping down and walking toward Casey. He took Olivia's flowers out of her hands and chucked them into Maureen's.
"Hey!" the teen cried, trying to un-smush the petals.
Trevor took Casey's hands and said, "You're having a baby."
Casey sniffled and nodded.
"We're having a baby," Trevor said, as if trying to convince himself.
Casey nodded again, "yes, I am. But can we talk about this later? People are trying to get married, here."
"We're having a baby!" Trevor yelled, picking Casey up and swinging her around.
Olivia and Elliot laughed at the display, considering it a welcome interruption. When things calmed down, Olivia noticed Alex, in the first pew, looking queasy. She gave her friend a soft, sad, smile and a tiny shrug. An apology.
Alex shook her head and looked down, giving a shrug in return. There was nothing she could do about it, really. She had to move on now.
"If there aren't any other imperative announcements," the priest said, smirking, "I would like to return to the main event." He gestured to Olivia and Elliot as the congregation chuckled.
"Yeah," Trevor said, pulling his suit jacket down, smoothing it out. "Sorry about that," he said with a sniffle. He wiped his eyes as he stepped back up, between Elliot's brother and Munch. "Carry on," he said with a wave of his hand.
Elliot scoffed. "Thanks for your permission, Counselor," he quipped as more chuckles were heard from the on-lookers.
Olivia smiled at her about-to-be-husband, and shook her head with a silent chuckle of her own. She took his hand and forgot about everything else as she spoke her words, and made her pledge to Elliot.
A few rows behind Alex, Dean Porter sat, solemnly watching the rings being exchanged, and the words and promises being spoken. He had tried, one last time, to lure Olivia away from her partner. He had failed. He had lost. Recently, though, he'd learned that he was never even playing a fair game. Elliot had his claws dug in deep, had staked his claim on Olivia, long before Dean had even met her. He was a pawn in their plan, designed to fool friends and family and colleagues into believing nothing was going on behind closed squadroom doors.
Still, he wondered why he wasn't enough to change her mind. He wondered how anyone could be worth making yourself miserable. He wondered why anyone would let themselves give up chance after chance for happiness to hold onto something that it was almost certain would never be possible. He watched them kiss, and as he heard the thunder of the applause surround him, he realized that he knew exactly how someone could do all of that. Because he had. For her. He sighed as he brought his hands together, clapping slowly more for show than happiness, and whispered to no one, "Game over."
Hundreds of eyes watched them walk out of the church, hand in hand, bearing witness to a new life beginning for both of them. A life without secrets, without any reason to hide anything from anyone any longer. Those same eyes followed them down to the banquet hall, and watched them dance for the first time as husband and wife, making it perfectly clear that the only thing they could see was each other.
Elliot danced his new bride around the room a dozen times, only letting her go so she could dance with Cragen as he danced with his mother. When they came together again, Elliot whispered to her, "Doesn't feel as silly as you thought it would, does it?"
Olivia chuckled, shaking her head as she remembered the night he pulled her up in front of the entire police department, both embarrassing her and making her feel amazing. "No," she said. "I haven't even noticed we have an audience," she said, gazing adoringly into his eyes.
"We have an audience?" Elliot asked, tilting his head and making a face as he spun her around. He pulled her into his arms and sung sweetly into her ear, "A bottle of red, a bottle of white, it all depends upon your appetite…"
Olivia kissed his cheek, laughing, knowing they'd be dancing like the wind a moment. As the beat kicked in, they sped up, moving as if they'd choreographed the number. She took a chance and glanced around, taking comfort in the fact that other couples were on the floor, including Trevor and Casey who both looked happier than she could ever remember seeing them.
"Dad," Maureen said, tapping him on the shoulder.
Olivia and Elliot stopped dancing and looked at their daughter. "Yeah," Elliot said.
"Uh, this came for you, but it's from…well…just open it." She handed him a box and bit her bottom lip.
Elliot looked at Olivia. Eying her, he opened the lid. He lifted a small card out of the box and read, "Elliot and Olivia. This is for your linebacker, or tailback, or quarterback. Whichever comes first." He furrowed his brow and moved tissue paper, finding a folded slip of paper. He uncurled it and let out a choking gasp. "Holy shit," he spat, handing it to Olivia.
Olivia furrowed her brow, confused as she took it from him. She looked at it, then said a soft, "We can't take this."
"He's not giving us a choice," Elliot said, handing her the card. "He feels guilty."
Olivia glanced up at Elliot and said, "He should. But is paying us off really…"
"He's making up for the grandchild he missed out on," Elliot said. "Maybe this is his way of doing what he feels he should have done with Maureen."
"Maybe," Olivia said, looking back down at the check. She saw Martin Stanfield's name staring up at her, and she sighed. "We could definitely use it," she said.
"That is the understatement of a lifetime," Elliot chuckled. He looked over at Maureen, who was still beside them, and asked, "Is he here?"
"No," Maureen said. "It was just dropped off by a messenger with a letter for me. That's how I knew who it was from."
Elliot squinted. "Letter? What letter?" he asked.
Maureen's lower lip started to quiver and she handed him a folded piece of yellow paper. "He said he was sorry, and that he thinks I'm lucky to have such a wonderful father. He said you must have raised me right for me to be so strong-willed," she chuckled as she swatted at a stray tear. "He said goodbye."
Elliot read the letter, shocked that the man who was close to fighting for custody of Maureen had, in writing, declare him "her father." He blinked away tears and read, out loud to his new wife, "Maureen, I wish I could have understood what the true meaning of fatherhood meant sooner, so I wouldn't have put you and your family through so much trouble. I wish I knew then what I know now, that fatherhood is deeper than biology, that genetics don't matter, but the love and the compassion and the life you share with your child makes you a father. Elliot is yours. Never let anyone tell you otherwise."
Olivia felt the words hit her, hard and fast, and she turned around, scanning the crowd. She found the man, for whom she was looking, turned and kissed Elliot quickly, and said, "I'll be right back." She picked up her dress, traveling across the floor, coming to a stop next to Cragen.
Cragen turned, smiled, and asked, "How is the woman of the hour doing?"
Olivia let go of her gown and threw her arms around him. "I'm absolutely perfect, Dad," she said, looking Heavenward and keeping the tears from falling.
Cragen was stunned. His arms moved, embracing her, and his eyes closed in relief as he let out a comfortable sigh. "What's this for?" he asked.
Olivia pulled away, shaking her head, and said, "Everything. For being a father when you didn't have to be, for being my father when I didn't want you to be, and for being the closest thing to family I've got, besides El and the kids."
Cragen rubbed his left eye, an attempt to keep from crying. "I could thank you for that, too, ya know. You are my family, Olivia. You and Elliot, and the kids, which is why…I'm leaving."
Olivia screwed up her face. "What?" she asked.
Cragen nodded, and then raised a glass across the floor to the chief of detectives. "Chief and I came to an agreement. You two can stay in the same department, as long as you're not partners. I knew Elliot would never go for it, knowing he couldn't look out for you the way he needs to, so…he'll be your new captain. You'll work with Fin. Munch will get a new partner. Elliot makes the final decisions, he's gonna tell you where you go and when you go, and if he doesn't want you to do something he won't make you do it. He gets the control we both know he needs, and I know he trusts Fin. If he needs or wants to, he can even go with the two of you. It makes sense, Olivia."
Olivia was in shock, finding it hard to breathe, finding it hard to think. "But you…Cap, we worked our asses off to get you back and…"
"And now I'm repaying you," Cragen interrupted. "Your happiness means more to me than any job, or anything else in this world. Besides, I'm an old man, Benson. It's about time I retire and move to a suburb with my wife." He chuckled as he took a sip of his soda.
"Does Elliot know?" Olivia asked, looking over at her husband, and smiling when her eyes landed on him dancing Lizzie around the room.
Cragen smiled at the sight, too. "No," he said. "Paperwork is still pending, so I didn't think I needed to bring it up until you got back from your honeymoon. London's beautiful this time of year."
Olivia nodded at her captain, hugging him again. "So, seeing as how you're not gonna be my boss anymore, you can watch the kids when we have to work late."
"Really?" Cragen asked, smiling.
Olivia smiled and nodded. "They need someone with them, ya know. It's a pretty rough city. And who better to watch them than their grandfather the cop?" she asked, nudging him with a smirk.
Cragen laughed and said, "Nothing would make me happier." He looked at her and sighed, calming his chuckles. "You look so beautiful."
Elliot, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her, said, "Hey, don't be hitting on my wife, old man." He chuckled and winked, telling his soon-to-be-former-captain that he was just kidding.
"I wasn't," Cragen said, raising his hands defensively. "I was just being honest,"
A/N: Any questions left unanswered? And lies left uncovered? No? Then this, honestly, is the end. Review here, or on Twitter: TMG212