A/N: Merry Christmas Eve, Everyone! Hope this is worthy of being your final Xmas update!
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns the characters. The song that is used, for inspiration, is "Christmas Shoes" by Bob Carlisle. I love the song, and had to use it! That's pretty much it. Everything else written before you is pure TStabler©
"Why are we here, again?" Dickie asked, looking around. "Can't she get her own shoes?"
Elliot hit his son in the head. "Could you be nice, for, like, five minutes? She has to work until six. Besides, she, uh, she doesn't exactly know..."
"Dad, hold up!" Dickie interrupted, a pointy high-heel in his hand. "You dragged me outta bed at six, made me walk all around this city to get her a dress, a ring, and now shoes, and she doesn't even know we're goin' anywhere to...wait, what was the ring for?"
Elliot smirked. "Just look around for anything simple, black, and high. She likes the ones normal people can't walk in, ya know? Prove she's Superwoman," he said, avoiding the question.
Dickie sighed and walked down an aisle looking for the perfect shoes, while Elliot wandered toward the section of designer heels at the front of the store. He heard a small voice from the register, though, which made him turn around. He saw, before him a small girl, her clothes torn and stained, and he tilted his head in wonderment.
"Sir I wanna buy these shoes for my Momma, please," the little girl said. "It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size!" She started to pull change, pennies and nickels, out of her tiny pockets. Then she sniffled, trying not to cry. "Could you hurry Sir?" she asked, frantically trying to find more change in her pockets. "Daddy says there's not much time. You see, she's been sick for quite a while, and I know these shoes will make her smile." She raised a hand and dropped a handful of change on the counter. "And I want her to look beautiful, if Momma meets Jesus, tonight."
Elliot was in complete shock. He watched as the man behind the counter slid the change back to the child.
The clerk sighed, and shook his head. "You just...you just don't have enough, kid," the clerk said, a sad look in his eyes.
The child looked in her hands, at the few single and ripped dollar bills she had. She held them up to him. "But...aren't they...on sale?" she asked, her voice breaking. She turned around and looked at Elliot, which surprised him, and what she said next broke his heart. "Momma made Christmas good at our house, though most years she just did without." A tear slid down the girl's cheek, and she sniffled again as Elliot stared. "Tell me, Sir, what am I gonna do?" she asked, shaking her little head and her hands trembling. "Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes."
Elliot swallowed hard and took a few steps toward the counter. He pulled his credit card out of his pocket and slapped it on the counter, looking the clerk in the eyes. "Ring up the shoes," he said sternly.
The man nodded, attempting to smile as Elliot did what he couldn't do, and he slid the card through the machine. He put the shoes in their box, then into a bag, and handed them to the small child. "Here ya go, kid," he said, what sounded like a cry in his voice.
The little girl's eyes widened and filled with tears as she turned her head to slowly look at Elliot. "Thank you!" she cried, throwing her arms around him. "I want her to look beautiful, if Momma meets Jesus tonight," she said, repeating her reason for needing the shoes as she looked up into his eyes.
Elliot nodded. "She'll look beautiful, honey," he said, choking on the tears.
The young girl hugged him again and then ran out of the store. Dickie had witnessed everything, and he walked toward his father. "That was...that was really cool, Dad."
Elliot nodded. He looked at his son and said, "Yeah. I just...I just realized what Christmas is really all about, kiddo." He picked up his used credit card off of the counter and left the store.
"But, Dad! Liv's shoes!" Dickie yelled after him, holding up the perfect pair of black stilettos, but Elliot didn't hear him. Dickie dropped the heels onto the counter and ran out after his father.
The restaurant was packed, which wasn't odd for a Christmas Eve in the city, but it was quiet. Elliot held Olivia's hand in his, her new diamond sparkling on her finger, her new dress fitting around every curve perfectly, and he couldn't stop starting or smiling.
"Dad," Dickie called, poking at his cake, "Are you all right?"
Elliot nodded. "I'm just thinking about that little girl," he said. "She...she made me realize that we are so...so lucky to have what we have, ya know?" He squeezed Olivia's hand, got a squeeze in return. "Christmas...the gifts are nice, the decorations are pretty, but when it comes down to it, it's love. Family. Being thankful that we...we're not in that position."
Olivia squeezed his hand again and kissed his cheek. "You're a good person, El. Doing what you did for her, that was incredible."
He shrugged. "Maybe, but the whole time I was thinking, what would I do if you were...if that was you, and one of the kids wanted to buy you something nice if you were..." he shook his head. "I can't even talk about it."
"It's not me," she whispered. "I'm right here, and I am perfectly happy, and healthy. We all are," she said, giving him another kiss. "And you made that little girl's Christmas with her mother truly special." She kissed him again and he squeezed her hand. "You did a good thing, honey."
"Is that why you said 'yes?" he asked, sniffling, trying to joke.
She chuckled. "You told me the story after I said, 'yes,' but it did make me fall in love with you a little more," she told him. She kissed him again, then turned to finish the desert they were sharing. She held out a forkful of cake and ice cream to him, he ate it happily, ending their Christmas Eve dinner on a high note.
Olivia walked into the kitchen early the next morning. "You got up early," she said, seeing Elliot at the table with a cup of coffee in his hands. She walked toward him, looked into his eyes, and asked, "What's wrong?"
"I, uh, I got a phone call," he said, sipping. "A woman died last night, in the low-income apartments a few blocks away from the restaurant. Guy said she was in rags, but was wearing brand new shoes," he said, looking up at Olivia.
Olivia's eyes fell. She knew.
Elliot continued. "They found a receipt with my name on it in her coat pocket. Carson from the two-nine called to ask how that happened, how I knew her," he explained, taking another sip of his coffee.
"Oh, El," Olive sighed, sitting beside him. She took his hand.
He shook his head and smiled at her. "It's all right. I told him what happened, he said that the little girl, the woman's daughter, had told him the same thing, only she kept calling me her Christmas angel."
Olivia swallowed, smiled at him, and she said, "That's...that's sweet."
"It's just her and her father now," he told her. "I told Carson to give them my number, and if they need anything..."
"Yeah," she said, squeezing his hand again. "Of course."
He shook his head. "Losing her on Christmas," he mumbled. Then he smiled. "The little girl got her wish, Liv. Her mother looked beautiful when she met Jesus."
"El, you..." but he pulled on her hand and leaned forward, looking into her eyes, stopping her words.
"I love you," he said. "I love you more than anything."
She looked into his eyes, the severity in them was frightening, but she smiled. "I love you, too, El." She felt the tug again and she was pulled further into his arms.
He wrapped his arms around her, sighed as his head fell into the crook of her neck, and said, "I don't wanna wake the kids, yet, baby. The presents can wait. I just wanna hold you for a while. This is what Christmas is for me. Love. You. Knowing we're all here and safe, with you in my arms, where you belong."
She kissed his neck, the spot where her lips had fallen, and said, "Merry Christmas, El."
A/N: And Merry Christmas to all of you!