A/N: We all make mistakes, and we try, as adults, to ensure that our children don't follow our path, and make the same errors. Sometimes, trying isn't enough.
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.
Olivia was perched at the coffee corner, pouring herself a mug of muddy, goopy, java, courtesy of Munch, a fellow detective. The radio was on, playing a song that she knew by heart, that spoke the words she was feeling most of the time. She was alone in the squadroom, or so she thought, so she was singing along.
"And I need you now, tonight," she sang, stirring her coffee. "And I need you more than ever, and if you'll only hold me tight, we'll be holding on forever. And we'd only be making it right, cause we'll never be wrong together." She put the milk away as she sang, "We can take it to the end of the line, your love is like a shadow on me all of the time…" she stopped when she turned toward her desk, and saw her partner sitting in his.
"Don't stop," he all but demanded.
Olivia cleared her throat, she blushed a bit but she hid it well, and she sat down. "That was mildly embarrassing," she admitted, reaching for her pen.
"You have an amazing voice, Liv," he told her. "I didn't know you could sing."
"No one does," Olivia said. "If I wanted people to know, I would have become a singer, not a cop." She began signing her reports, a bit quickly, and kept her eyes low. "What are you doing back here, El?"
Elliot sighed, leaned over to her, and said, "Couldn't sleep."
"You hauled your ass all the way back to work because of a bout of insomnia?" Olivia asked, scoffing.
"Well, first I hauled my ass all the way to your apartment," Elliot said, smirking, but when you weren't there…"
"How the hell am I supposed to help you sleep?" she asked, not getting it, raising her eyebrow. "Am I that boring?"
Elliot chuckled. "No," he said. "I just wanted to talk to you."
Olivia nodded. They hadn't really talked in a while. Not since his divorce was finalized a few weeks ago. Now that certain things were allowed to be said, they stopped talking to avoid saying them. "How are things at home? Kids adjusting?"
"Eh, kind of," Elliot said. "Kathleen hates me, Maureen hates Kathy, the twins hate each other," he said, wagging his head from side to side. "So what about you? You still seeing what's-his-name?"
Olivia chuckled. "Greg," she said.
"Right, Greg," Elliot said, though he knew exactly who he was. He'd run a background check on him. "Well?"
"No," Olivia sighed, running a hand through her hair. "Yet another failed relationship…if two dates in three months is even called a relationship."
"Wait, what?" Elliot asked, interested. He liked where this was going.
"Yeah," Olivia said. "I was working a lot. Or I was with you and your kids, which he wouldn't have understood, so I told him I was working. We only really managed to go out twice. One of those two times, I got called to a crime scene and left him in the restaurant alone."
Elliot laughed. "You looked beautiful, though, showing up to the scene in that little black dress, and those red heels, with your…never mind." He cleared his throat. "He just didn't respect you enough, he didn't understand what you have to do, he didn't deserve you."
Olivia looked at him, curious.
"Just saying," Elliot muttered.
"Okay, Stabler, what about your love life?" Olivia asked, smirking. "Any prospective second wives?"
"Yeah, actually," Elliot said. He saw Olivia pale and she dropped her pen. He raised an eyebrow and said, "I'm not really, uh, sure how she feels about me though."
Olivia took a breath. "You're not even with her, and you think you wanna marry her?"
"I've known for a while," Elliot said, catching her eyes. The look in them was sending a clear message; she was hoping he meant her. He could read her eyes like a book. He smiled. "I'm afraid to tell her, because what we have now, what we've had for years, is amazing and I don't want to wreck it."
Olivia held her breath, and the music flowed through her, as if sending a signal. He was talking about her, wasn't he?
"Bonnie Tyler's right, Liv," Elliot said, again, reading her thoughts through her eyes. "We'll never be wrong together."
Olivia's eyes widened. He was really talking about her. Is that what he just said? She opened her mouth to speak, but her cell phone rang. She held Elliot's gaze as she answered it, her voice slightly shaky. "Benson," she said. "Honey, where are you? Are you crying? Why are you crying?" she asked panicking and getting out of her seat. "Oh, God, we'll be right…I have to bring him! You know I do, sweetie. He won't, I promise. This isn't your…oh, my God. Well, uh, I just won't tell him that part then, but honey, stay calm. We're on our way." She tapped the button on the touch-screen to end the call and grabbed her keys, looking at Elliot. "We have to go to Mercy General, El. Now."
"We got a vic? Who were you talking to?" Elliot asked, rising from his seat.
Olivia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She opened them slowly, reached out a hand, grabbed his, and said, "Maureen."
"Oh, God! She was raped?" Elliot asked, panic and bile rising simultaneously.
"No, no," Olivia said, shaking her head, trying to assure him that isn't what happened. "We just have to get down there. Right now."
They burst through the hospital doors, held up their badges, and Olivia, looking at the closest nurse, said, "Maureen Stabler, her room, now."
"Exam room three, but you can't…" before the nurse had finished, Olivia and Elliot were down the hall, barreling into the room.
"Olivia!" Maureen cried, leaping off the table and running to her. "Oh, God, Livia," she cried.
Olivia held on to the girl, and brushed her hair back, loosening their bond a bit to look at her. "Sweetie your father and I are here, okay? We're right here. Calm down. Tell us what happened."
Elliot's eyes welled up with tears as he looked at his daughter. She had a black eye, a split lip, bruises around her neck and her right arm was in a sling.
"I was with Nick," Maureen said, sniffling.
"I know. Liv told me that much. You know I hate that kid," Elliot seethed, pulling his daughter toward him, into a hug. "What did he do to you, baby?"
Maureen shook her head. "Nothing, Daddy," she said. "Nothing, ever, until tonight. I told him about…" she paused, looked at Olivia and said, "I told him. And he flipped out on me. He told me there was no way he was going to stay with me, and that it was my fault, and then he hit me. He just kept hitting me," she said, sobbing harshly as she fell into her father's arms.
"What did you tell him, pumpkin?" Elliot asked, keeping calm for the sake of his daughter.
Maureen looked up at Olivia, wide-eyed. "You really didn't tell him?"
"You asked me not to," Olivia said, biting her lip. "I figured it would be better coming from you."
Maureen nodded, took a deep breath, looked at her father and said, "I told him I was pregnant."
Elliot was silent, staring into his daughter's eyes, his heart breaking and cracking with each passing moment, splintering into sharp shards. "Maureen," he whispered, "Baby, my God, you're only sixteen!"
"I'm sorry, Daddy," Maureen sobbed. "I'm so, so, sorry!"
Elliot shook his head, pulled his daughter tighter into his arms, and sent a glance to Olivia over Maureen's shoulder. Like him, she could tell what he was thinking, what he was saying, just with his eyes. She nodded at him, giving him a small smile. She would stay with him as long as he wanted her to.
The waiting room was silent, as for the first time in his life Elliot was the parent of the victim. Munch and Fin were in Maureen's room, taking her statement, and all that could be heard from where he and Olivia were sitting was the sound of his heart beating rapidly and strongly, still panicking.
"Where did I go wrong?" Elliot asked, not expecting an answer.
"What are you talking about, Elliot?" Olivia whispered, shocked.
Elliot sniffled, trying not to cry. "When I raised my kids, Liv. I told them the truth about everything, they knew why I married their mother, they know how hard it was for us, and I was so sure that I had warned them all enough, told them all enough, taught them well enough to wait. I thought that I'd explained the dangers and the consequences, and I thought I had them all convinced that waiting until they found the right person, one they loved enough to hold onto forever…God, she's making my mistake all over again."
"You are an amazing father," Olivia told him, her voice firm as her heart weakened, She'd never seen him like this: on the verge of tears, doubting his abilities as a father, as a man. "You did do all of those things, El, you really did. I promise you that."
"Than why…and with that son of a bitch, Nick, who I expressly told her not to…" he stopped and shook his head again.
Olivia sighed, and breaking every rule in the book, she ran a hand through his hair. "She's a kid, El. Kid's are gonna disobey their parents, and make mistakes. She's young, she thought she was in love. She probably really did think that he was worth it. Also, you told her not to see him, which pretty much guaranteed that she would."
Elliot nodded, running a hand over his face. "She called you," he said, changing the subject. "She called you and not me. She told you not to tell me about the baby. What did I do to make her think that I wouldn't be there for her?"
"Nothing," Olivia said, forcefully. "El, baby, you did nothing to make her think that. She called me because we're close. Because she needed a girl, she needed a friend. And you heard her in there, she thought I told you. She knows that you and I tell each other practically everything, and she wanted to get to you through me, softening the blow. She didn't want to disappoint her daddy."
Elliot scoffed. "I'm the disappointment," he said. Then he furrowed his brow and turned his head toward her for the first time in hours. "Did you just call me 'baby'?"
Olivia tapped him in the arm lightly and gave him a stern look. "Focus!" she scolded, not wanting to admit that she did, in fact, accidentally call him "baby." She rested her hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "You are not a disappointment. You are the best father any kid could possibly have. The entire state of New York agrees, since Petrovsky gave you full custody."
"I'm just the lesser of two evils," Elliot said, shaking his head. "What am I gonna do, Livvy?"
Olivia was confused. Who the hell was "Livvy?" She had to admit, her heart leaped a bit when he called her that. It sounded like something someone who truly loved her would call her.
"I can't do this by myself," Elliot continued. "I can't take care of two teenagers, two preteens, and a baby. My baby's having a baby, Livvy! I need help here, I need…you," he said, taking her hand and squeezing. "I need you now, more than ever." He looked up at her, and the tears had finally fallen, silently sliding down his cheeks.
Olivia, both heartbroken and somehow, suddenly very happy, reached out her other hand, the one he wasn't clutching, and wiped away the tears with her thumb.
Elliot leaned his face into her touch, seemingly nuzzling her hand.
Olivia gasped softly at his actions, how different and surprising they were, and said, "You have me, El. I'm right here."
Elliot, sighing in relief, pulled her into his arms. "Thank God you are, Liv," he said, sobbing lightly into her shoulder. He wasn't sure he could handle this on his own, but her knew he could do it if he had her with him.
A/N: A beginning? Or an end? You decide. Again, sorry if that last chapter of Alternative offended anyone. It was never intended to. I've edited it, and apologize to any reader I may have upset.