A/N: "Motherhood doesn't change people, it just brings out qualities they didn't have the need to show before they had children."
DISCLAIMER: SVU and characters? Dick Wolf. This story? TStabler©
He watched her as she rocked their daughter to sleep in the chair Bernie had placed in the nursery so many months ago. He had their son in his arms, sleeping soundly, bundled up tight, and his eyes were on his wife.
She was humming a song he didn't know, with a smile on her face he hadn't seen until the babies were born. A new smile that reached her ears, giving her face warmth and a glow. He sighed to himself as he moved toward the first crib, placing the baby gently on the pillow. He moved over to his wife, he knelt beside her, leaned over and kissed her cheek.
She turned her head, noticing him for the first time it seemed. She winked at him, her humming still soft and her chair still rocking. She looked back down at the baby in her arms.
"You're really happy," he said in amazement.
She nodded. "I am," she said, her voice a whisper as her humming stopped. "She's asleep, finally."
"Don't get up, I got her," he whispered to her, rising to his feet and taking the tiny girl from Olivia. He walked her over to the second crib, slowly, and just as gently as he had with his son, he laid his daughter down.
He looked from the baby girl to the baby boy, and he shook his head, still unable to believe that they were there, they were his and Olivia's, and they were perfect. He swiped a single fingertip down the bridge of his daughter's nose, something he had done the minute she was born, which had come to mean a silent "I love you." He was astounded at how much she looked like Olivia, and it gave him a deeper connection to her, a deeper desire to protect her because he wasn't there to protect Olivia when she was little.
He sighed and repeated the gesture with his son, promising to give him the best life he could, promising it to all of his children.
Olivia watched him do this, and she got to her feet, out of the rocking chair, and walked over to him. She wrapped her arms around him, standing behind him, and rested her chin on his shoulder. "You're happy, too."
"More than you could possibly know," he whispered, turning his head to look at her. He kissed her, then took hold of her hands, pulling her away from his waist and turning toward the archway that led to their bedroom.
He tugged, making her follow, as he led her out of the nursery. He sighed as he flipped off the light and let go of her hand. He pulled his tee shirt over his head and slipped out of his jeans, leaving just a pair of blue briefs covering him. He eyed his wife, smirked, then dropped the cotton to his feet, kicking the garment over to the hamper.
She chuckled and rolled her eyes, then moved toward the bed.
"Uh-uh," he said, shaking his head. Naked, he strode over to her, grabbed the hem of the long tee-shirt she was wearing, and pulled it up, over her head. He looked into her eyes as he dropped his hands to her white panties, and he held her gaze as he slid them over her hips, letting them fall. "Much better," he whispered, kissing her.
She raised an eyebrow as she watched him pull down the quilt and held her into the bed. He simply smirked at her and crawled in on his side.
"I know you're self-conscious now, but baby, you have no reason to be." He pulled her close to him, lifting her leg up a bit and draping her body over his. He pulled the blanket over them and he kissed her shoulder. "You're body is amazing, your stretch marks, the few that you have, are there because you just gave birth to two of our children, baby. You're absolutely perfect."
She sighed as he kissed her, wondering why his habit of sleeping naked popped up. Since the moment she found out she was pregnant, he would undress her and hold her, skin to skin, every night. Even nights they didn't have sex. He wanted to see her body change, feel it. And now he wanted to watch and feel her body, her new motherly form, bounce back to the tight armor it once was.
He kissed her collar bone, then her chin, then finally her lips, and said, "I didn't fall in love with you because you had a killer body. Though, honestly, it is a definite plus." He chuckled and said, "I fell in love with you because of who you are, and that doesn't change because you overdid it with the pickles and ice cream." He trailed a finger down her hips, rounder than they ever were. "This is the body of a mother, honey," he whispered to her. "An amazing mother."
Her heart swelled and her breath hitched for a moment. "Yeah," she said. "Well, we're still going to the gym in the morning." She kissed him and said, "I still have a job to do, and I can't do it carrying fifteen extra pounds."
He laughed and kissed her. "All right," he told her. "We'll go. I just wanted you to know that I'm not..."
"I know," she said, interrupting him. "I wouldn't have fallen in love with you if I thought that's how your mind worked." She snuggled close to him and shut her eyes, whispering, "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Mommy," he said with a smile, kissing her temple.
She smiled at his words, feeling her heart melt at them. She was almost asleep, comfortable and warm, when the wailing cry of her son filled the room.
They both shot up, looked at each other, and got out of the bed. They each grabbed a robe, wrapping it around them, and made it into the nursery just in time for their daughter to join her brother's crying chorus.
Olivia chuckled under her breath as she lifted her son into her arms, knowing the routine. She watched Elliot pick up their daughter and they began their now-well-choreographed dance, taking turns at the changing table and rocking chair, and then settling on the floor, Olivia sitting with Elliot behind her, wrapped around her, as she fed each small child.
He kissed the back of her head, then her neck, then rested his head on her shoulder, watching her work. "This is so beautiful," he whispered to her. "You are, like this, with them, I can't..."
She turned her head, ignoring the gnawing and nipping her son was doing to her sensitive skin. "You can't...what?"
He shook his head and sniffled, wiping his eyes with one hand. "Nothing," he mumbled.
She smiled at him, touched at his emotion, his openness with her. She remembered the early days of their partnership, when they couldn't even consider themselves friends. He would hide everything form her. He wouldn't let her see him smile, get pissed off, and he certainly wouldn't let him see her cry. He tried to close her off, tried to keep her away.
She took a breath, thanking God that he failed, that he let her in, and they had what they had now. "I love you," she said, dropping her forehead to his.
He nodded, sniffled again, and kissed her nose. "Gimme him," he said, nodding at his boy. He and Olivia switched children and he moved back just a bit to burp him as she fed their daughter.
"Fed, changed, burped, and sleeping," she said, shaking her head. "If they cry now, I give up."
He laughed as he got to his feet carefully, then helped her up off of the floor. They walked to the cribs, let down the twins, and padded back into their bedroom. They dropped their robes, not caring where they landed, and crawled back into the bed. They didn't even have to try, they simply fell asleep.
Bernie, peeking into the room her son shared with his wife, sighed when she saw their peaceful faces, their arms wound around each other. She smiled as she realized she had been wrong about trouble heading her way. She was so used to things falling apart, crashing down, that she just expected it.
She took a few steps down the hall and nudged open the door to the nursery, and smiled even wider as she took in the sight of the sleeping babies. She had done it. She had given her son what he wanted, made sure he got the life he deserved and the complete family he dreamed about. She closed the door quietly and walked toward her own room, shaking her head.
Bernadette Stabler was never the best mother. She was flighty, she had a lot of issues and a lot of flaws, and she took a lot of her anger and irritation out on her youngest son as he grew up. It took her so long to accept him for what he was, accept his choice to become a cop like his father, accept his mistake-filled marriage. It took her even longer to be supportive in all of it, to be the protective and loving mother he needed.
She got into her bed and turned out her light, and she looked up at the ceiling. "Better late than never," she mumbled with a small laugh. And as her eyes closed, she felt a wave of peace roll over her, telling her that her work was done. She chuckled and shook her head, falling deeper into her slumber. She was laughing at her own subconscious thoughts, and she rolled onto her side as she mumbled, "A mother's work is never done."
A/N: And so it ends! Thank you all for sticking with this story, and I hope I've painted Bernie in a way that made you love her. And in honor of Mother's Day tomorrow, I'd like to send warm thanks and blessings to all of the mothers out there, raising bright, beautiful children. :) Review here, or on Twitter: TMG212