A/N: FINALE: Have you ever noticed that the sky is so bright and beautiful after an eclipse?
DISCLAIMER: SVU and related characters/ideas belong to Dick Wolf. Original plot and dialogue belong to TStabler©
Life hadn't been very easy since that phone call. Olivia watched, heartbroken, as Elliot broke down in tears after listening to his brother's voice. The phone call lasted less than a minute, but the effects were going to last forever. Olivia held him as he cried, the receiver still clutched in his hands long after he had hung up.
The next month was a blur. They rushed around trying to prepare for the newest arrival, they celebrated birthdays and Maureen's graduation, and they traveled back and forth from Elliot's mother's house to their own, trying to spend what time they could with her, trying to make up for years of avoidance.
When she got worse, and they had to admit her to a hospital, Elliot rarely left her side. When the disease finally won, he didn't cry. Not about that.
That same night, he was busy with his own little family. Olivia had complained about feeling nauseous, so he made her lay down. She was then "nauseous" every ten minutes, so he rushed her to the hospital.
They admitted her, one floor below his mother, and seven and half hours later, Ella Faith Stabler was born. His tears were given over to joy, as he held his newborn daughter in his arms and cuddled with his wife. He wasn't even aware that his mother had died until Olivia and Ella were both asleep, and his brother walked into the room to tell him.
His mother's death and his daughter's birth were five minutes apart. Eclipsing each other, causing his emotions to crack and bleed and blend, making him unsure of whether he was more heartbroken or overjoyed.
These were his thoughts, as he sat in the pew at the church, next to Olivia, holding a sleeping three day old Ella. His kids sandwiched them into the wooden seats, sniffling and drying their eyes as the priest spoke. He looked from the cloth covered casket to his daughter's tiny face, and he smiled.
There were two angels in the room, he thought. "She's so perfect," he whispered.
Olivia nodded, giving him a small, soft smile. She caught his eyes, and the light in them was brighter, hotter than she'd ever seen. "Are you all right?"
"Better than ever," he said, his eyes no longer red, the puffiness fading. "You and Ella, the kids, even Oliver. You've made my life so…so incredible, baby. I think, for the first time in my life, everything is…everything makes sense." He wiped the last tear out of his eye and looked back down at Ella, her bright blue eyes hidden behind closed lids, tufts of dark brown hair covering an otherwise smooth head.
She dropped her head to his shoulder. "It really does," she whispered. They sat, somber, through the rest of the service. Only moving when Elliot needed to get out of the pew to help his brothers and cousins carry the casket out of the church.
Olivia and the kids led the procession behind them, followed by Kathy, Elliot's sisters, other family and friends. The parade of people dispersed once outside, and Olivia led the group of Stablers to the waiting black towncar.
Elliot got in a few minutes after they did, and he grabbed Olivia's hand and sighed. They rode in comfortable silence to the cemetery, the two babies sleeping through it all. As people talked and commiserated after the burial, they realized it was surprisingly joyous, for a funeral, as they celebrated Bernie's life rather than mourned her loss.
Once home, after the small gathering of family and friends at a restaurant, everyone was drained. Silently, they climbed the stairs. Maureen headed into the nursery to settle Oliver down, the kids plodded into their rooms, and Olivia walked into the bedroom she shared with Elliot, placed Ella into the crib next to the bed, and then turned to Elliot. She sighed.
He smiled at her and pulled her into his arms, and his lips met hers in the most delicate kiss. "It was nice," he said, his smile crooked as if it part of it longed to be a frown.
"You have a wonderful family," she said, running her hand down his arm. "They all couldn't get over Ella," she laughed.
"Can you blame them?" he asked with a scoff. "She is the most perfect baby in the history of babies."
"You said that about Oliver," she teased.
He kissed her again. "I said that about all of my kids." He took her hand, spun her around as if dancing with her, and unzipped her dress. "She really is perfect." There was a pause as his hands traced the curves of her body, still swollen from bringing their daughter into the world, but still so beautiful. "I think…I think my mother knew."
"Knew what?" she asked, looking over her shoulder.
He slid the cap-sleeves of her dress over her shoulders, letting it fall to the carpet beneath her feet. "I think she knew Ella was coming," he said. "That night. She died five minutes before our daughter let out that first cry, and I think she did it on purpose. She knew that Ella would need our undivided attention, we wouldn't be able to keep going back and forth to the hospital with a newborn baby. She let go, so we wouldn't have to worry anymore, so Ella wouldn't have to have her only experiences with her grandmother clouded by medicine, wires, and machines. She knew she would never live long enough to make any real memories with her, so she became her guardian angel, to live every moment with her. My mom…"
"That's a really beautiful thought, El," she interrupted, turning around fully. She pressed her lips to his again and whispered, "You're probably right."
"My mom was like that," he said with a smile. "Always trying to outshine everyone, and always living on a higher level than anyone else."
She smiled. She reached a hand up and stroked his cheek for a moment, wondering how anyone could be so deep and passionate about everything in his life, no matter what. She kissed him and moved to the dresser, getting dressed for bed.
He moved behind her, was about to enrobe her with his own body, but Ella gave a little gurgle. He moved to her crib quickly, knowing that after the gurgle came the wail. He lifted her into his arms before the crying could start, and he rocked her softly, easily, smiling and hushing her as her teeny lips quivered.
Olivia pulled a tee shirt over her head and stepped up next to him, wrapping her arms around him and looking at their daughter, calming down as her parents soothed her.
"This is my favorite thing," he whispered, turning slightly and kissing Olivia. "The moments I get to spend with my two girls, Liv, are the moments I live for. Times like this make every problem, every bad thought, just go away."
She hummed and smiled. Bending her head to kiss the baby's head, she said, "Because this is what matters now."
"Baby," he said, drawing her eyes up to meet his, "This is what's always mattered."
She kissed him, scooped the baby into her arms, and said, "Very true, El." She slipped the tiny girl back into the crib, now that she'd fallen back to sleep, and she asked, "Can you turn on her radio?"
He pulled off his shirt and jacket, then turned the knob on the stereo. Music, they'd found out, kept Ella calm. As soon as the notes filtered out from the speaker and hit his ears, though, he grinned. He tugged the tee shirt down and stepped over to Olivia, who was giving him the same look he was giving her.
She walked willingly into his arms, swaying with him as he kissed her. He pulled back, looked into her eyes, and softly sang the words, remembering how he'd fallen more in love with her when she sang the same song.
She looked at him and smiled, tears filling her eyes and love pouring from every bit of her body. "I love you," she whispered.
He moved closer, nuzzling her nose as he kept singing. "There's nothing I can do, it's a total eclipse of the heart."
A/N: The End! Look for a new fic, starting soon! Thank you for sticking with this story, and thank you for making my birthday special by reading the final chapter. =)