(Chapter Nine: Forever)
Olivia was leaned over the side of the hospital bed helping Allie find Waldo when Elliot arrived.
"Daddy," she said with a smile as she threw her little arms around his neck.
Elliot hugged her tight as he stared at a worried Olivia.
"All they would tell me is that her fever had spiked again," she tried to explain.
"They put a needle in me right there," Allie said with a sad face as Elliot inspected the medical tape on her little arm.
"That is so they can give you medicine," he explained to the child.
"Elliot," Olivia said as she leaned forward and whispered to him, "I overheard them talking about surgery."
"I'll find out what is going on. You stay here with Aunt Liv and help her with the book. Daddy is going to talk to the doctor," he said as his daughter looked up at him with questions in her eyes.
It was nearly an hour before Elliot returned.
"Did you figure anything out?" Olivia asked.
"I'm sorry it took so long. I had to fill out a ton of consent forms. She is scheduled for surgery first thing in the morning. Tonsillectomy."
"It's her tonsils?"
"The doctor seems to think so."
"She is awfully young for surgery."
"He assured me they do this kind of thing all the time. He said she should be back to normal in a week or so."
"Whatever it takes to make her better, I guess. It just sounds so scary."
"Tell me about it."
"Well, I guess now that we have a better idea of what is going on….I'm gonna go home and get some stuff to make her a little more comfortable. Is there anything you need?" Olivia asked.
"Just for my baby for be better."
Olivia smiled softly.
"You should both try to get some rest. I'll be back in an hour or so."
"Thanks," he said with a worried smile.
"No problem," she said kissing Allie's forehead before she left.
A couple of hours later she returned to find Elliot sitting in the chair beside his daughter's hospital bed watching some Disney Princess cartoon and Allie had control of the remote. She smiled as she walked in and handed him the stack of paperwork he had called and asked her to pick up for him.
"Thanks. I figured this will at least give me something to concentrate on when all I can do is sit here."
"I also brought lunch and some stuff for her."
Elliot leaned forward in an attempt to see into her bag as she pulled out a couple of coloring books, crayons, Allie's night light from her bedroom and an old tee shirt of hers.
"Good thinking," he replied examining the items once more.
"I also brought a change of clothes for you and I," she replied allowing the strap of the duffel bag to slip from her shoulder and dropping it into the floor.
"If your clothes are in that bag, then what is this shirt for?" he asked unfolding Olivia's very worn NYPD tee shirt.
"That's Allie's favorite shirt to sleep in. It used to be one of my favorite work out shirts, but have not worn it in years. She loves it. I thought she might rest a little better if this place felt a little more like home," she replied plugging in the purple butterfly nightlight across the room. "You know, make it a little more comfortable and less scary."
"You always think of everything. And I am busy freaking out."
"I'm freaking out, too, El. This is just how I keep myself from going crazy while I freak out. It's sort of a nesting thing, I guess. When I am scared or in situations where I feel helpless, this sort of gives me something I can control. I feel helpful."
"You are very helpful. Sometimes I think you are better at this parenting stuff than I am."
"It's a lot of work," she said shaking her head. "You are her entire world. And she is yours. I don't know if I could do that all of the time."
"You already do. I may be her father, Olivia, but you have done just as much parenting for this child as I have. I don't know what either of us would have done without you. We both depend on you much more than I ever anticipated going into this. And you are always here for us both."
"You are my family, El. You and Allie," she said with a soft smile.
Nobody got any sleep that night. No one that is, except for Allie, who seemed to be more impressed with the thought of sleeping in a bed with a remote control than scared of having surgery the next morning. Elliot sat in a dark corner of the room sipping coffee and worrying all night. While Olivia, on the other hand, curled up on the little sofa watching old "I Love Lucy" reruns and reading a novel on her Kindle.
"How is she doing?" Olivia asked raising her head around 4 am and realizing that she had dozed off.
"She's fine," Elliot replied kissing the little girl on the forehead. "I just wanted to make sure she's warm enough. She kicked her blankets off again."
"She does that all night," she replied. "She's gonna be okay, you know? This surgery is really common in kids her age."
"I know. It is just so damn scary. She is my baby. And tomorrow morning that doctor is going to take her in there and fill her full of drugs to knock her out, then go in and cut parts of her out."
Olivia sat down beside him and placed her hand over his squeezing it tight.
"Don't you have court in the morning?" he asked.
"Absolutely not. Cragen took care of it for me. Fin worked that case, too. So he's gonna cover for me. The only place I am going to be tomorrow is right here with you."
"You should get some rest."
"I'm good. I'll sleep when you sleep," she said softly. "Meanwhile, I believe it is my turn to make a coffee run."
Elliot smiled a tired smile as she pulled a few dollar bills from her purse and disappeared into the hallway.
"God, please let her be alright," he said softly choking back tears as he kissed Allie's little hand.
He smiled as he inspected the purple glitter nail polish on her tiny fingernails. Then he laughed a little remembering back a couple of weeks at how excited she was to show him when he got home. Olivia had taken the child along for a mani/pedi at the spa and Allie had so much fun.
"Purple," he said raising his head as Olivia handed him a cup of coffee.
"It is her favorite color," Olivia reminded him. "She spent the entire time they were doing my nails trying to decide between two shades. She had a blast."
"She always does with Aunt Liv."
"She's my girl," Olivia whispered with tears in her eyes.
"Listen, there is something important I have been meaning to talk to you about," he said sitting back on the sofa across the room and patting the empty seat beside him."
"Shoot," Olivia replied curling up at the other end and taking a sip of her coffee.
"I have been thinking about the way things went down the other day when you brought her in here."
"Is something wrong?"
"No. But something could have been. If it had been a real emergency, we would have been in trouble. They would not have treated Allie or taken her in for surgery, because by law you are not authorized to give permission for stuff like that."
Olivia stared at him.
"It scares me to think that this could have been something a lot worse. And if you hadn't been able to reach me or if it had taken me a while to get here, they would have withheld treatment. Liv, in some situations seconds can mean the difference between life and death. I trust you. I trust you with my life and I trust you with my daughter's life. I know that you are the only person in the world who could possibly love Allie as much as I do. And I know that you would do absolutely anything for her. And that you always have her best interest at heart."
"Yes," she agreed.
"Olivia, I am going to make a call first thing in the morning. I want my lawyer to draw up the papers."
"I want him to draw up papers stating that you have legal parental rights over Allie as well."
"Elliot," Olivia said as her jaw dropped.
"Please just let me get this out. The papers will not only name you as her legal guardian so you can make medical decisions if anything should ever come up, but they will also name you as her Godmother. That way I know that if anything should ever happen to me…."
"Elliot," Olivia replied shaking her head with tears in her eyes."
"No. This is important. I need to know that she will be taken care of if anything should happen. I'm not planning on anything happening," he said choking out a laugh to lighten the mood. "I just want to know, God help me, that if I cannot raise my child, she will go to the only other person who loves her as much as I do. We talked about this before, when she was little and I never got around to having the papers drawn up. But I am her father, her parent and it is my job think of everything. Like what will happen to her when I am not around to take care of her anymore. Please, Liv. I know talking about this makes you uncomfortable. Trust me, it makes me uncomfortable, too. But this is important. Probably the single most important decision I will ever make for my daughter. I have to know that she will be taken care of. I have to know that she wont end up an orphan and just be dumped off in the foster care system spending the rest of her life all alone. Please promise me. Promise me that if anything happens to me, you will take her. Promise me that you will take her and raise her like she was your own."
"Of course. Elliot, I would never let them put Allie in foster care."
"Just sign the papers," he said with a smile.
Olivia smiled and nodded in agreement.
"But if anything happens to you, I will kick your ass," she replied hitting him in the shoulder.
"Deal," he laughed as he shook her hand.
The next morning Elliot's lawyer arrived bright and early. The sat at a table in the corner of the hospital room as he walked them through the papers and Allie watched cartoons. Olivia smiled watching as Elliot signed his name to the papers and handed her the pen. She looked over her shoulder at the most beautiful child God ever created, then lowered the pen and put her signature on every line.
A few hours later Elliot held his daughter's hand as her little eyes grew heavy and she finally fell asleep.
"Sleep tight, angel," Olivia said watching as he kissed his baby girl's hand and they wheeled her down the hallway.
"She's in good hands, daddy," the nurse reminded him. "We just happen have one of the nation's best pediatric surgeons who just transferred in a few weeks ago and he is on your daughter's case. Normally, a this procedure is performed by a general surgeon. But your baby girl, landed herself a specialist."
"That's a good thing, right?" Olivia asked nervously.
"That is a very good thing," the nurse assured them.
"We often ask family members of surgical patients to donate blood," the nurse suggested.
"You think she's going to need blood?" Elliot asked with a worried look.
"We like to have it on hand just in case. And if Allie doesn't need it, we can always use it in our blood bank. Would you be interested in making a donation today?"
"Sure," Elliot agreed.
They followed the nurse down the hallway and she handed him a clipboard of papers to fill out.
"It isn't that bad," Olivia said watching Elliot wince as the needle was inserted into his arm.
"You can say that because you don't have a fifteen year old drilling holes in your arm. She couldn't even find the vein," he replied.
"I am sure she is older than that."
"Well she doesn't look it."
"Relax, you big baby," Olivia laughed. "It's just a little blood. And it can help to save someone's life," she reminded him.
Half an hour later another nurse approached Elliot.
"Mr. Stabler, can I have a word with you?" she asked looking over the paperwork he had given her.
"Is there a problem?"
"It's about the blood you donated…."
"There is a problem with my blood? They said they just wanted it incase they needed to give it to my daughter. Can she still use it?"
"Mr. Stabler, I can't give your daughter this blood."
"Is it bad? I could give you more."
"There isn't anything wrong with it."
"Then what is the problem?"
"The blood, your blood….it is type B positive ."
"Sir, according to the lab workup we did on your daughter before surgery, her blood type is A positive."
Elliot was stunned for a moment, as he backed up and sat down.
"I'm O positive," Olivia said looking at the nurse. "You can give her my blood."
"Yes, ma'am," the girl replied then turned and disappeared down the hall once more.
"I know you wanted to do this to help Allie, but it isn't that big a deal, El."
"She's A positive," he mumbled.
"She probably got it from her mother," Olivia said placing her hand on his shoulder.
"Kathy was also B positive. We used to donate together when we were married," he said with a smirk. "It was important to her. She was a real humanitarian. We had the same blood type."
"What does that mean?" Olivia asked feeling a knot in her throat and fearing the answer.
"It means that there is no possible way I could be Allie's biological father," he replied looking up at her with tears in his eyes.
Olivia squeezed his shoulder as Elliot cleared his throat.
"I'm sorry," he said as he stood up and smoothed his hands over his face. "I just need a few minutes."
"Of course," she agreed.
Then she watched as he walked away. She wandered around the halls for a while, wasting time…giving him time. Time to adjust and to think. To let it all sink in. To wrap his mind around the fact that his daughter is not his daughter. To adjust to the fact that the baby in the basket was not really his. To let it sink in that the little girl he built his entire world around is not really his little girl.
She exhaled and made her way to the cafeteria. There she bought two cups of coffee and a piece of carrot cake with two plastic forks. There was no way this was going to even make a dent at righting the wrongs of the day, but comfort food always seemed to make her feel at least a little bit better. And on a day like today it was her duty as Elliot's best friend and Allie's Godmother to do everything she could to help them through this hard time.
Olivia stopped just outside Allie's room and watched Elliot inside as he sat next to the hospital bed waiting for the little girl to wake up.
She placed her palm against the glass and exhaled.
"God, please let her be okay," she said softly.
"She is going to be just fine," a voice said from behind her.
Olivia turned to see a tall and very attractive man in a white coat.
"You are her doctor?" she asked.
"Yes. And she came through the surgery with flying colors. I just updated daddy. She should wake up shortly. I want to keep her for a few days to make sure she doesn't have any bad reactions to the anesthesia and to monitor for signs of infection. She will pretty much be on a Jell-O and ice cream diet for the next few days and we will want to make sure she gets plenty of fluids."
"She is going to be alright?" Olivia asked with a smile.
"She is going to be just fine."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"You are very welcome, Olivia."
She paused for a moment then looked up at him.
"Wait, how do you know my name?"
He smiled and incredibly sexy smile.
"You don't remember me?"
She was quiet, desperately trying to think of where she could have possibly known him from. Surely she would remember a man this….hot.
"Hot," she mumbled aloud without realizing it.
"My friends call me Vincent," he laughed. "Hot Doc, was a joke."
"Vincent? Vincent Reid?" she asked suddenly realizing what she was talking about.
"Dr. Vincent Reid."
"From the speed dating place."
"Not one of my finer moments, by yes."
"Well, Dr. Vincent Reid," she replied with a smile, "you fixed my Goddaughter. That makes you a Rock Star in my book."
"Thanks," he laughed.
"I mean it. You are my new hero."
"So does that mean you might consider having dinner with me sometime?"
"What?" she asked caught completely off guard.
"Well, your friend said you don't date doctors. I was hoping maybe you didn't have any rules against Rock Stars and hero's."
"What did he say?"
"I asked him if you were single. I didn't notice a wedding ring. And he told me that you don't date doctors. Is that still true?"
"Um, no. No, it is not true. Any…anymore. It's kind of an outdated policy," she stuttered.
She watched as he smiled.
"Okay. So, would you like to have dinner with me sometime?"
"Yea," she replied smiling uncontrollably.
"Yea? How about one day next week?"
"I would love to."
"Alright," he said pulling a prescription note pad from the pocket of his white coat and scribbling his number on it, "it is now in your hands. Here is my number. Call me and we will work out the details."
"I will," she said as he gave her a nod then turned and walked away. "A doctor?" she whispered to herself as she stared at the note. "Allie's doctor," she reminded herself.
She stepped into the room and watched Elliot watching protectively over Allie.
"Hey you," she said softly as she offered him a cup of coffee.
"The doctor said she is going to be okay."
"That is great," she replied sitting down beside him and handing him a fork.
"Then he asked you for your phone number."
"She is your daughter, El."
"No. She is your daughter and you are her father. The only father she has ever known. DNA….DNA doesn't matter, Elliot. She is your entire world and you are hers. That is what matters. You love each other. And that is all that matters."
"Yea," he replied taking a bite of cake. "That is incredible, by the way."
"I'm a comfort eater," she confessed. "Cake always makes me feel better."
"You really can't go wrong with cake and coffee," Elliot agreed.
"So what are you going to do?"
"I don't know. She has a right to know. Not now, she is too young. But when she is older, she has the right to know the truth about who she is."
"You are going to try and figure out who her biological father is?" Olivia said softly.
"I know it is the right thing to do for Allie. It is what I should do as a father for my daughter. But…"
"I don't know. Maybe I am just selfish. Part of me doesn't want to find him. Part of me doesn't want to care who he is."
Olivia studied the look in his eyes.
"What if he wants her, Liv? What if I find him and he decided that she is his daughter and he wants custody of her? What if he takes her away from me?"
"Can he do that?"
"All it takes it the right judge and a paternity test. I could lose her. Forever. I may never see her again."
"What are you gonna do?" she asked softly.
"Right now, I am gonna eat cake. And wait for my beautiful little girl to wake up and ask for her daddy," he replied and Olivia closed her eyes fighting back tears.
"What are you gonna do?"
"About Hot Doc?"
Olivia smiled and took a deep breath.
"I am gonna have dinner with him."
"Yes. It is against everything I stand for….but the way I see it I am not doing so great out in the dating world with my current standards anyway. Besides, it is just one dinner. What could it hurt?"
"You might actually like him if you can look past the whole sexy doctor thing."
"Seriously though," Elliot replied, "he seems like a really good guy."
"He does, doesn't he?" she asked taking another bite of cake.
"And honey, if anyone deserves a good guy it is you."
"You are so sweet, El," she said hugging his arm and laying her head on his shoulder.
"Especially after some of the jerks you have dated."
"They were jerks. And losers."
"Not even in your league. Remember comb over guy?"
"Oh my gosh, I had almost forgotten about him. I cannot believe he actually thought that looked good."
"I cannot believe you actually dated him."
"It was a blind date. I had no idea how….unique this individual was before I met up with him for dinner."
"And the second date? When you made Casey and I go together because you didn't want to be alone with him?"
"I felt really bad for the guy."
"What?" she asked as he shook his head.
"We really have been through it all together," he replied.
"Yea, we have," she said as he took her hand in his and locked their fingers together.
"For better or worse," Elliot said with a smile.
"Through thick and thin," she added.
"Best friends, forever."
"Forever," she agreed with a smile.