A/N: Happy Thanksgiving, people!
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf own SVU and the characters; TStabler© owns the story you're about to read.
"Come on, scrawny ass!" Fin yelled across to his partner. "I gotta be outta here by five and at the airport by six. Can't ya type any faster?"
Munch rolled his eyes. "Just go," he said. "You don't have to stay and watch me do paperwork."
"I have to sign the 'five," Fin said gruffly, annoyed.
Munch smirked. "After all this time, you don't think I don't know how to forge your signature?" he quipped. "Go. Have a happy turkey dinner where you sit there and claim you're thankful for things you take for granted on the other three-hundred-and-sixty-four days of the year," he said.
Fin rose from his seat, grabbed his jacket, and said, "You're a cynical bastard, but I love ya, man. Happy Thanksgiving, guys!" He waved and left, leaving for the holiday weekend.
"So," Munch said, still typing, "What are the two of you doing tomorrow?"
Elliot chuckled. "Traditional dinner," he said. "Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, every vegetable in the world, I'm even making this venison dish my father used to make." He sighed. "Just me and the kids and more food than we can possibly eat. And hopefully...someone special will be joining us."
Olivia gave him a shocked look and tilted her head. Who was the special someone? She still couldn't believe that he didn't mention Kathy, so it was surprising to hear him mention someone else already. It had been almost a year, ten months and six days, to be exact, not that she was counting, and she still couldn't get used to his family not including Kathy.
She also couldn't get used to the fact that, since Kathy had been gone, Elliot had been pulling her closer. He would include her in family gatherings, family game night, he took her to Lizzie's school concerts and Dickie's football games. More recently, in the last three months, they would spend nights together, just talking and not saying much of anything, as if he was trying to tell her something, but he couldn't figure out how. Was she the special someone he was talking about? She hoped so.
"What about you, Benson?" Munch asked, looking at Elliot first, with a smirk.
Olivia sighed as she snapped out of her thoughts. "Same thing I do every year. I'm renting really bad movies and thanking the Lord that Mister Chow's delivers on Thanksgiving," she laughed.
"No, you're not," Elliot said, smirking. "Not this year. You're spending it with us." His smile widened. "I thought you knew that already," he chuckled. "Ya know what? Come over tonight, help me do the cooking, and…"
"You want to die, don't you?" she asked, cutting him off. So she was the someone special he wanted to be with, but he wanted her to cook, too. She tired to keep her cool on both accounts. "I will either poison your whole family, or burn down your kitchen, or both," she said, narrowing her eyes.
Elliot chuckled. "Come on, you can't be that…" he saw the look she was giving him and stopped talking. He cleared his throat and said, "I ask you, every year, to spend Thanksgiving with me, Liv."
"And I say 'no' every year," Olivia said, nodding once, "For a very good reason."
Elliot smirked. "Yeah, well that very good reason lives with a guy named Luke in Jersey now, so what's your excuse this year?"
She blinked, looking at him, and couldn't think of a single thing to say. She sighed and rolled her eyes.
"That's what I thought," he said, grinning. "So I will drive you back to your place, we'll run up and get some things, and you are spending the night at Casa de Stabler, taking part in every stupid Thanksgiving tradition I can think of, including cooking the turkey."
Munch laughed. "I won't expect either of you back here on Monday," he said, shaking his head.
Olivia narrowed her eyes and said, "Hey! Like you're any better of a cook than I am!"
"I'm not," Munch said with a shrug. "I have all of my holidays catered," he chuckled. He finished his paperwork, as did Olivia and Elliot, and they bid each other and their captain a holiday farewell.
Olivia followed Elliot out of the building and to his car, getting in with a nervous sigh. "Thanks," she said softly.
"Come on, Liv," Elliot scoffed, starting the car. "You know I wouldn't let you spend Thanksgiving alone this year. Not…not when I know…I know why you always have," he explained with a small shrug.
She looked at him, a nervous and questioning glance, and asked, "You know? What do you know, exactly?"
He began to drive, looking from her to the road and back again. "Really, Liv?" he asked, exasperated. He sighed, matching hers from before, and said, "You knew. The whole…for the last seven…you knew. You stayed away out of respect, right? Because you knew that if you and Kathy were ever in the same room, she'd know. She'd see…"
"What the hell are you talking about?" she cut in. "I never came to Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner or any other dinner with your family because your wife hated me. What do you mean, she'd see…"
"She'd see that I was falling in love with you," he interrupted, stopping at a red light. He turned his head slowly, looking at her wide-eyed, suddenly pale face. "She'd see that I was in love with you! She'd know, and it would ruin…" he paused, seeing the fear in her eyes. "Shit, I actually said that out loud, huh?"
She nodded slowly, biting her bottom lip. As the light turned green, she asked, very softly, "How long?"
He sighed again, and then cleared his throat. "Almost seven years," he said. "Can you believe it? I think…it took me about eight months to fall in love with you, so really, more like six years and four months, but…yeah." He looked at her and shook his head. "You really didn't know?" he asked.
"I…no," she said, sinking into the seat. "I…I kind of hoped…I mean, I wanted…"
"Just…tell me you feel the same way," he said, turning off the bridge and interrupting her. "Or tell me you don't. Either way, I need to know that tonight isn't gonna be awkward. I need to know that tomorrow isn't gonna be weird."
She looked at him, but was silent. She was having trouble breathing. She couldn't process what was happening, what he had just told her. She blinked and looked back out at the road.
He hit the steering wheel, feeling as if he screwed everything up, and drove to his house in silence. He parked, then got out, walking around to open her door.
She was still quiet as she followed him into the house, and as they dropped their coats onto the couch and walked into the kitchen, the only sound between them was the click of footsteps. She watched him take the turkey out of the sink, where it had been defrosting, and place it into a roasting pan already set on the stove.
He walked dejectedly over to the refrigerator, opened it, and pulled out a small, plastic container. "Take this," he said, handing it to her, "And rub it all over the bird."
"What is it?" she asked, turning the container over in her hands.
He chuckled at her cluelessness. "Butter with chopped herbs mixed into it," he said.
"Okay," she said, "I, uh, I need a spoon or…do I use a rubber spatula or one of those flat knife-looking things?"
He laughed again and peeled the lid off, and then took her hand, shoving it into the softened, greasy blend. "There ya go," he said with a smirk. "Get to rubbing."
"Gross," she said with a small gasp. "El, are you out of your…"
"Welcome to Thanksgiving, Liv," he said with a smile. He moved back to the refrigerator and pulled out a bag of orange-colored potatoes, then walked beck over to her. He started to peel the spuds, every once in a while laughing as he glanced at her hesitatingly rubbing the butter on the bird with one hand, gagging as she did it.
She smirked, then. "Stop laughing at me," she said. "I've never done this before."
"I know," he said. "But it's really not that hard, I mean, it's just…"
She stopped his words, stopped buttering the turkey, and said, "I meant, I've never done any of this before. I've never had a real Thanksgiving dinner, with a real…family…and I've never…" She paused and looked into his eyes, moving closer, her greasy hand still on the top of the bird. "I've never had a good reason to be thankful."
"And you do now?" he asked, staring back at her just as hard. He felt his heart pound; he thought he'd be getting his answer to the question he'd asked her in the car.
"Tonight isn't gonna be awkward," she whispered, reaching for his hand with her non-buttery one. "Tomorrow isn't gonna be weird," she spoke quietly, linking their fingers. "For the first time, El, I think I'm really gonna have a happy Thanksgiving. I think, for the first time in my life, I'm gonna be happy, period."
He blinked, an attempt at calming down, and said, "What I said in the car…I didn't…"
"You didn't mean it?" she asked, backing away.
He gripped her hand tightly and pulled her closer to him. "No, I meant it! I just…I didn't mean for it to come out like that. I've…I've been trying to tell you how I feel for months. Ya know, trying to find the guts, and the right words, and the right moment. I don't want you to think I said it to guilt you into spending the holiday with me and the kids, or to make you think this was all just an excuse to get you to spend the night with me. Liv, I want you here, because I love you. You belong here, with me, now, tonight, tomorrow, Christmas, New Year's…every night, for the rest of your life."
She smiled at his clumsiness, his tripping over words and his rapid speech, but she moved into him slowly, brushing her lips over his gently. "I love you, too, El," she whispered. She pressed her lips to his, and was not prepared for him to pull her close, wrap his arms around her, and make the kiss much more than it was supposed to be.
He was relieved when she fell into the kiss, relaxing into him, kissing him back fully and just as passionately. But he gasped and pulled away, laughing and wiping his cheek frantically, when she got so wrapped up in the moment she cupped his face, with both hands.
"Sorry!" she shouted through a hard laugh. She found the dish towel, wiped off her hand, then moved to him to clean off his face. "I'm so sorry," she said, softer, still laughing.
He grabbed her wrist, stopping her from wiping anymore, holding her hand against his face. He looked deeply into her eyes and said, "I'm not." He brought her hand, wrapped in his, down to his side and leaned forward, brushing his nose against hers. "I've never been more thankful for anything than I am right now, for that kiss."
She exhaled sharply, her nerves getting the best of her, and said, "Me either." She kissed him, slowly, as she cupped his face again, this time without a butter-laden hand, and against his lips, she murmured, "We have one, small, problem, though."
"What, baby?" he asked, pulling her closer, keeping their lips locked.
Moaning softly, she responded, "We never went to my apartment. I don't have anything to sleep in, or to wear tomorrow."
He smirked broadly against her lips. "Happy Thanksgiving," he mumbled, wrapping his arms even tighter around him.
She chuckled lightly as they kissed and slapped him in the shoulder, knowing it was, indeed, going to be a very happy Thanksgiving.
A/N: We all, each one of us, have a lot for which to be thankful. I hope you all have a happy and joy-filled holiday, and that you have another year full of blessings and great friends, as you've all become to me. =) Happy Thanksgiving.