A/N: When a writer has too many ideas, things like this happen. 14 stories at once, gah! Set around S2 with its gears cranking in an AU direction.
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf, genius, owns SVU and its characters. TStabler©, fan of genius, owns this story, the narrative, the dialogue, and everything but the characters.
"No, that's not what...I'm not saying you can't play baseball, Dickie, just...you can't play it in the house!" Olivia yelled, opening the back door and tossing the hard ball out into the yard.
Dickie rolled his eyes. "Livia," he whined, "It's hot out there! And it's dark!"
"It's summer!" Olivia said, wide-eyed. "And it's night! No ball in the house. Your parents would kill me and then they'd kill you, now either go outside and play, or stay in here and do something else!"
Dickie sighed and headed up to his room. "You're such a cop," he grumbled.
"Yes, I am!" Olivia yelled, closing the back door.
Maureen, from the archway leading to the living room, said, "Yeah, Livia, you're a cop. So why aren't you at that stupid dinner-dance thing with my dad?"
"What?" Olivia asked, coughing slightly.
Maureen chuckled. "Well, not with my Dad, but...why didn't you go?"
Olivia shrugged. "Your folks needed someone to stay with you, I didn't have a date, everybody wins." She rested a hand on the young girl's shoulder and patted, unwilling to tell her that she couldn't stand watching her partner and his wife parading their perfect relationship in front of her all evening. "Besides, I'd just be in the way," she said quickly.
Maureen sighed and shook her head, watching as Olivia walked into the living room to join her sisters on the couch. "She's so blind," she mumbled. "Everybody in this house is just...blind." She rolled her eyes and followed Olivia's footsteps, making her way into the room to watch the movie with the rest of the girls.
"Okay," Olivia said, flicking the button on the remote as the credits rolled, "That was two hours of my life that I will never get back. Why did you make me sit through that?"
Kathleen gasped. "The wolf-boy was gorgeous!"
"The vampire was so dreamy!" Lizzie cried, leaning up on her elbows.
"And they were both twelve!" Olivia laughed.
"So am I," Kathleen said, smirking.
Olivia laughed. "And I'm...not twelve." She looked at each of the girls and said, "Okay, up to bed. Showers, brush your teeth, I'm checking on you in thirty minutes."
"Thirty?" Kathleen asked, her eyes wide.
"You all have your own bathrooms," Olivia said, raising her eyebrow, "And you're all little. There isn't that much of you to wash. Move!"
Lizzie got up and leaned in to Kathleen, but Olivia heard her speak. "Is it just me, or is Livia more of a mother than Mom sometimes?"
"Sometimes?" Kathleen whispered back. "More like all the time. Livia's kids are gonna be the luckiest brats in New York," she said, running up the stairs.
Olivia sighed, leaning her head back on the couch, thinking about how happy that little exchange had made her, and how miserable. She waited the agreed upon thirty minutes, then walked up the stairs. She read Dickie a story, then read one to Lizzie, checked on Kathleen and Maureen, then made her way back down to the living room. She sighed as she curled back up, pulling her knees to her chest as she picked up her book. She read the same line over and over again, then tossed the book onto the seat beside her. She looked around the room, at the photos on the walls and on the shelves, and something struck her. Elliot and Kathy were never in the same pictures. They were never together, save for the wedding photo, in which they both looked petrified. They were, after all, only eighteen when they got married, and they weren't exactly doing it because they wanted to do it.
She got off the couch, walked over to the fireplace and looked at the pictures on the mantle. Elliot with his kids, looking happy, as if he didn't have a care in the world. Then Kathy with the kids, looking as if she had to work to smile. Were things bad at home? They couldn't have been. Elliot would have told her. Right? She walked over to the one family photo she saw, on the wall near the stairs, and she smiled. Elliot looked so happy. His family was his life. Dickie was on his shoulders, he had one arm around Kathleen and the other resting on Lizzie's head. She briefly wondered why Kathy was as far away from Elliot as she could be, only linking arms with Maureen. If that was her, if she had a husband like that, her arms would be wrapped around him in every photograph. She'd make sure the world knew he was hers, and she was his. Why wasn't Kathy enjoying the perfect man and perfect life she'd been given?
She ran her finger over Elliot's smiling face, letting out another sigh, and backed up toward the couch again. She grabbed her book, curled up, and finally moved beyond the second sentence when the key turned in the door and it opened.
Elliot and Kathy walked into the room, silent, obviously upset and tense. "Say something," Kathy demanded.
"I already said everything I needed to say," Elliot said through gritted teeth. "The fact that you're...you're just...damn it, Kathy!"
Suddenly, they both stopped, turned, and looked at Olivia. Her eyes were wide, her lips were pressed together. She rose off the couch and said, "Yeah, so you two look like you had a great time. Kids are fed, washed, and asleep. I'm gonna go."
"No," Elliot said, holding out a hand. "I'm driving you, just gimme a second." He looked at Kathy, narrowing his eyes. "You want it, Kathy. You got it. But I'll be damned if you're getting anything, especially the kids. You wanna leave, you leave empty-handed."
Olivia must have misheard him, she must have. She shook her head, blinking quickly, clearing her head.
Elliot looked at her for a moment, focusing on how naturally beautiful she looked in the loose sweats and tank top. Her hair was back, she wasn't wearing any makeup, and she was stunning. He cleared his throat, turned and grabbed the doorknob, opening it and ushering Olivia outside. He led her to his SUV and asked, "Did the kids give you any trouble?"
Olivia scoffed. He just changed the fucking subject. "Dickie tried to turn the kitchen into Yankee Stadium, but I put the kibosh on that right away. Other than that, no. You have have four little angels."
"Okay, next question, why the hell didn't you come with me to this thing tonight?" Elliot asked, starting the car and driving away. He was driving faster than necessary. He was pissed. Or nervous. Or both.
Olivia chuckled. "Because you didn't ask me to! Not to mention, I just assumed you wanted to take June Cleaver, Ward. I didn't have a date, you needed a sitter..."
"You're my partner," Elliot said, glancing at her sideways. "I shouldn't have to ask, it should just be...we should just go to these stupid things together." There was a moment of silence, as they both held their breath crossing the bridge. Once on the other side, Elliot exhaled and said, "I don't wanna spend any more time alone with Kathy, who by the way is nothing like June fucking Cleaver, than I have to. I would have much rather been there with you, Liv. And you could have asked Cassidy if you wanted to come..."
Olivia interrupted, snipping, "That's over. That's been over for a long time. That was a mistake. It was one night, one stupid night that I let go way too far, and...yeah."
"Sorry," Elliot said, sighing. He sounded relieved. "The way he talks, Liv, he makes it sound like he's still with you."
"He was never with me," Olivia said, scoffing. "Hey, what happened at that dinner?"
"What do you mean?" Elliot asked, turning onto Olivia's street.
Olivia dropped her jaw and looked at him. "I was in the room, El. Something happened tonight, something big. Kathy's..."
"Leaving," Elliot said, biting his lip. "Yeah," he whispered. He parked in front of Olivia's building and turned to her. "She's leaving. We haven't been happy together in a really long time, Liv. We kept having kids, hoping they would bring us together, and all they've done...they've made me incredibly happy, but they've made Kathy's life hell. I'm never there, becasue of work, and she's starting to hate me, and hate them. She can't handle it anymore."
Olivia looked at him, narrowing her eyes. "You don't seem like you're putting up too much of a fight here, I mean..."
"I'm tired of fighting, Liv!" Elliot cried. "You shouldn't have to fight for it, ya know? Love. It shouldn't be work, it shouldn't be hard! Love should be easy, love should be natural. And what I have with Kathy...shit, it was never either of those things." He sighed, ran a hand down his face and said, "I found it though. Easy, natural. I got it."
Olivia held her hand up. "Oh, El, if you're about to tell me you've been cheating on..."
"What? No! Please," Elliot said, giving her a look. "But I'm not gonna lie and tell you I haven't thought about it. I think I might be in love with someone, Liv. Really. Honest to God, real, easy, natural, hopeless love." He waited for a reaction. He got nothing. "I need your advice, I mean, what do I do with that?"
Olivia sighed closing her eyes, feeling the knife dig in a little deeper. "Whoever she is, El, she's a lucky bitch. Take her someplace nice, tell her how you feel. If she has a brain and a working pair of eyes, she's already in love with you, too. Who knows? It could be the start of something new for you." She got out of the car, slamming the door behind her.
"Liv!" Elliot yelled.
"I know," Olivia called back to him. "Flash the lights. Right."
She was in the door before Elliot could tell her what he really wanted to say. He waited, then watched the lights in her bedroom window flash, then sighed. "Idiot," he mumbled to himself, shaking his head as he headed back home to Queens.
Elliot walked into work the morning, into the bustling squadroom. "Hey, jefe!" he called to Cragen, the captain, who waved a Twizzler at him as he answered a ringing phone. "What's going on?" he asked Olivia, who was on the phone herself.
Olivia cupped the receiver. "Taking sighting calls. Missing six year old boy. Ran out of his abductor's van at a stoplight on Thirty-Fourth Street."
"Got him!" Munch yelled, slamming down his phone. "Cassidy, off your ass, let's go!"
Cassidy winked at Olivia, then left with Munch.
Olivia hung up the phone and ran her hands over her face. "He needs to get over it."
"The sooner the better," Elliot said, chuckling. "Hey, uh, what are you doing tonight?"
"I had a date," Olivia said, "Why, you need me to watch the kids?"
Elliot cleared his throat. "Uh, had? What do you mean had?" he asked handing her a cup of coffee.
Olivia rolled her eyes. "Mark found out what I do for a living when he called the station and Cassidy answered with a bright and cheerful 'Sex Crimes, Detective Cassidy speaking."
"Ouch," Elliot said. "He run away or what?"
Olivia raised an eyebrow. "He wanted to know if I could describe my latest case to him, in detail, in my best bedroom voice."
Elliot made a face at her. "Jesus," he said. "You didn't, did you?" he asked, smirking and raising an eyebrow.
"I hate you," Olivia said, sipping her coffee. "Thanks for this, by the way. So you and Kathy kiss and make up? You taking her out? Why am I watching the kids?"
Elliot laughed. "Ah, no, Kathy and I did not make up. In fact, I slept on the couch for the three-hundred-and-sixty-third night in a row. I don't need you to watch the kids."
Olivia squinted at him. "Then why did you..."
"Hey, uh, you have a brain, right?" Elliot asked, smirking. "And you have perfect vision, correct?"
Olivia tilted her head. "Elliot, have you gone completely crazy?" she asked, holding up a finger to Cragen, who was signaling for their attention.
"Come to dinner with me tonight," Elliot said, taking another sip of his coffee.
Olivia snickered. "You need to ask me to dinner now? Christ, we go to dinner every night after work. Burgers and beer at Barley's Pub."
"No, not tonight. This time it's different," Elliot said. "Tonight, I wanna take you someplace nice."
As the realization hit her, Olivia opened her mouth to yell at him for screwing with her, but she was interrupted.
"Children," Cragen yelled, "You've got a body on Fortieth. Two-Eight-Nine, storefront. Meet Warner and CSU there." He grabbed Elliot on the way out and said, "And please, for the love of God, don't laugh at any stupid shit while you're out there today. The damn M.E already thinks you two are the most insensitive cops she has to work with."
"Easy, jefe," Elliot said with a smile, "We'll keep the inside jokes to a minimum." He slapped the captain on his shoulder and walked out with Olivia, anxious to get the case closed fast, and tell her what he wanted to tell her, and hopefully do what she told him that would do: start something new.
A/N: How do they work on this case? Where does Elliot take her for dinner? Does he tell or her, or does he lose his nerve? Is Kathy really leaving? Review to find out! Here or on Twitter TMG212