A/N: A one-word-one-shot, word suggested by quite a lot of you, actually. Got this word FOUR times by FOUR people! Thanks! =)
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and the characters, TStabler© owns the parts and contents of this story.
Lizzie Stabler was awake, on her knees, staring up at the night sky through her window. Her little blue eyes scanned the horizon, and when she found what she was looking for, she gasped and squeezed her eyes shut tight. "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight," she whispered into the air. She clasped her hands together and prayed, hard and long, for something that would remain solely between her and the first star she saw in the dark, New York midnight.
When she awoke the next morning, she bounded down the stairs, hoping to see that her wish had come true, but it seemed that it hadn't. Her father was in a dingy shirt, unshaven and sad-looking, sitting at the table, poking at his breakfast. "Daddy?" little Lizzie asked.
Elliot looked up at his daughter and said nothing. He looked down at his waffles and grunted.
Kathleen, annoyed, said, "Dad, it's been five months. I think you can move on. We have."
Elliot looked at Kathleen, ran a hand down his face, looked up at Olivia with narrow eyes, and got up from the table. He scoffed, walking back into the living room.
"What's wrong with Dad?" Lizzie asked.
"Your dad's fine, honey," Olivia said, holding the ten year old at bay. "He will be fine, I promise. Here," she said. She pulled outa chair and said, "Eat. It'll get cold."
"Who made them?" Lizzie asked, poking at the waffles as her father had done.
"I did," Olivia said. "I've learned a lot from being here with you guys, including your mother's recipe for waffles." She kissed Lizzie's forehead and watched the girl's eyes light up as she ate.
"They're exactly like Mom's!" Lizzie said cheerfully. "Thanks, Liv! I've missed them."
"Everyone did," Dickie said with a mouthful. "Everyone except Dad. He got kind of angry when he ate them."
Maureen rolled her eyes. "Dad is...he's Dad," she said. "He didn't really like Mom's waffles to begin with. Maybe he thought he'd never have to eat them again." She got up, put her dish in the sink, kissed Olivia on the cheek and said, "See you after school, Liv."
Olivia nodded as Maureen and Kathleen left. She stayed in the kitchen until the twins had finished eating, then sent them off to school, too. She sighed as she walked back into the kitchen, resigning herself to wash the dishes. She was humming a song, though she wasn't sure how she knew it, and she dropped the dishes delicately into the drain board after rinsing.
"You don't have to do this," Elliot's voice said from the doorway.
Olivia closed her eyes. It was the first thing he'd said to her in two days. "Yes, I do," she said. "If I don't, the dishes will just pile up and..."
"Not the dishes," Elliot said, running a hand down his face. "You don't have to be here, Liv. You don't have to cook, you don't have to clean, you don't have to help the kids with their homework, you didn't have to hold me while I cried myself to sleep every night that first week, you didn't have to stay for five fucking months, you don't have to do any of this."
Olivia stopped mid-rinse, put the dish in her hands back in the sink, and turned off the water. "Okay," she said, drying off her hands. "I'll get my stuff and go, then."
Elliot stepped in front of her, preventing her from leaving the kitchen. "I didn't say I wanted you to go," he said.
"You're talking in circles," Olivia said. "You just said..."
"I said you didn't have to," Elliot interrupted. "You don't have to, but you did and you are. Do you know what that means to me?" he asked, tears filling up his beautiful, blue eyes. Do you know how much I appreciate everything you've done, and everything you're doing?" he asked, brushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
Olivia bit her bottom lip. His touch shocked her, and frightened her. She cleared her throat and blinked. "The waffles pissed you off," she said. "I'm not really helping."
Elliot chuckled. "They pissed me off because I remembered. When I got that phone call, and they told me there was nothing they could do...a part of me died with her. I mean, we weren't perfect, but what couple is?" he asked with a shrug. "One of the last things I said to her that morning was...I insulted her fucking waffles, so when I bit into yours, I felt that pang of guilt that just...it's never gonna go away."
Olivia looked at him and brushed the falling tear away from his cheek, noting to herself how much his skin felt like sandpaper. "They were just waffles," she whispered. "Kathy knew...knows...that you love her."
"Liv," Elliot said, shaking his head, "Kathy knew, before she died, that I was falling in love with someone else. That's why I insulted her waffles, because she had started in on me about divorce papers and...anyway, she died knowing I was leaving her, how fucked up is that?" he asked with a scoff.
"At least she knew you loved her," Olivia said ignoring the comment about "someone else" and blinking. "You loved her enough not to hurt her. You called her and apologized, El, I heard you do it. The last thing you said to her was, 'In spite of everything, I love you, Kathy."
"You remember that?" Elliot asked, squniting, amazed.
Olivia nodded. She looked down and turned back to the sink. "I remember it," she said. She remembered how her heart sank because she thought it meant they were getting back together for the fourth time, and she'd miss her chance with him, again. When a crazed lunatic shot his way through the hospital, and she died, Elliot wasn't the only one who felt terribly guilty. "Trust me," she said with a light scoff.
"You always know what to say to make everything better," Elliot said, leaning against the fridge as Olivia washed the last dish. "No wonder victims love you," he said, amazed at the angelic glow that seemed to be radiating from her.
Olivia scoffed. "Victims can relate to me since I'm practically one myself," she said. "The damaged are drawn to the damaged, El. It's the way things work. People who are broken want to fix everyone and everything, except themselves. It makes them feel like they're worth something. Like they have a purpose."
"Is that why you're here?" Elliot asked. "You want to fix me?" he asked, tilting his head.
Olivia shut off the water again and looked at him. "No," she said. "Well, I do want to fix you, and your kids, but I'm not here because I want to feel better about my pathetically pathetic existence. I'm here because I love you, and I love your kids, and I don't want you to hurt..." she stopped. She closed her eyes. She turned away from him and hit the edge of the counter, hard. "Damn it," she spat.
"What?" Elliot asked, standing up straight. "Liv, what is it?" he asked again when he didn't get an answer.
"Take a shower," Olivia said. "And for the love of God, shave. I can sharpen a steak knife on your chin." She walked out of the kitchen, attempting to head up the stairs.
"What the hell just happened in here?" Elliot asked, following her. He grabbed her arm and spun her around. "Talk to me!" he yelled.
"I love you!" Olivia yelled back. "I just told you that! I actually said it! The words came out of my mouth, and..."
"Okay," Elliot said, not seeing the problem. "So you love me. That's great. I would think that if you hated me you wouldn't be here. I love you, too, Liv,"
Olivia closed her eyes, tossed back her head, slumped over, and whined, "No, Elliot." She shook her head and tried to pull her hand out of his. "You don't get it! I didn't mean like a brother, or a friend, or a partner, or a favorite pair of shoes. I meant, I love you. I'm fucking in love with you, and this is the worst possible time in the world to be telling you this. I'm just...I'm gonna go."
Elliot held onto her hand, not letting her go. He looked at her for a moment, then pulled her toward him, wrapping her in a tight hug. More tears ran down his face, dripping slowly from his wide open eyes. He looked up and smiled. "Thank you," he whispered.
"For what?" Olivia asked. "Making your life more complicated than it needs to be?" she asked.
Elliot chuckled. "I wasn't thanking you," he said to her. "I was...thanking Kathy," he said. "Last night..." he paused and took a breath. "Last night, I did something I haven't done since I was a kid. I wished on a star, and I...talked to her. I asked her to forgive me for everything, and I told her how much I really did love her, but that I was tired of fighting my feelings for you." He was talking fast, afraid if he stopped, he'd never tell her. "I told her everything, Liv. I told her when I fell in love with you, how it happened, and that I needed you more than I was ready to admit. I wished on that star and I asked Kathy to give me a sign that everything was gonna be okay, to give me some kind of fucking sign that you wouldn't take off the minute I told you I loved you. To tell me it was okay to love you."
Olivia was staring at him, she couldn't really believe what he just said. "You...wait, what?" she asked, breathless.
Elliot took both of her hands in his. He looked her right in the eyes, moved closer to her, and said, "I love you, Liv. I always have. And you are worth something, you don't need to fix people to prove it. You mean so much to me, and to the kids, and you really are my guardian angel. I'm in love with you."
Their eyes were locked as Elliot moved closer. His lips just touched hers, a sweet, chaste, loving kiss. He pulled back, seeing shock, insecurity, and to his relief, love in her eyes. He smiled at her, blinked away the last of heis tears, and he leaned in for a slower, more loving kiss.
The door opened, and they didn't hear it. They didn't pull apart. Lizzie saw them, kissing and smiling against each other's lips, wrapped in each other's arms. She smiled herself as she walked to the kitchen table to get the textbook she'd left behind. She silently crept out of the house and pulled the door closed with a tiny click.
"Did you hear something?" Olivia asked, brushing her fingers over Elliot's cheek.
Elliot shook his head, kissing her again. "I didn't hear anything," he said against her lips.
Lizzie ran to her brother and said, "Sorry. Thanks for walking me back."
Dickie shrugged. "Why do you look so happy?" he asked.
"I wished on a star last night. I just got what I wished for, that's all," Lizzie said as they walked toward their school.
"You wished for a science book?" Dickie asked. "You really are such a nerd," he told her.
Lizzie sighed and shook her head. "Not the book, Dickie," she said with a laugh. She thought about her brother for a moment, wondering what he would look like bald. She smirked when she knew what she'd be wishing for on her first-seen star before she went to bed that night, and she couldn't wait to see that wish come true.
A/N: I still wish on stars. Just sayin.