A/N: Live your life the way you see fit, to make yourself happy, to make it a beautiful life.
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and its characters. TStabler© owns the narrative, dialogue and plot of this story.
Elliot rolled his eyes for the seventh time at Dean's poor excuses and explanations, and just as he was about to say something in rebuttal, his phone rang. He reached for his phone, narrowing his eyes a bit as he did so. "Stabler," he spat. He listened, his eyes darkening and his nostrils flaring a bit as he listened. "Yeah, ya don't say? No, she's fine."
"Who are you talking to?" Olivia asked, tilting her head.
He held up a finger, then looked over at Simon, giving him a serious look, silently telling him that he believed him. "You got it, Cap." He hung up, slipped the phone in his pocket, and took Olivia's hand. "Let's go," he said, pulling her out of the booth in which they'd been sitting.
"Hold on," Dean yelled, "We're not finished here."
Elliot turned his head and scoffed. "Oh, we're done, Porter." He pointed a finger and nearly jabbed it into Dean's chest. "Stay away from her," he threatened.
Dean smirked. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me," Elliot sneered. "Whatever you got on her father, you keep it to yourself, understand? We crossed that bridge a long time ago, and bringing Simon into this for your own personal gain…"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Olivia interrupted.
Elliot, his eyes still fixed on Porter, said, "My buddy Dean, here, spent most of his adult life watching my back. I thought it was friendship, but I was wrong. Seems he'd much rather not have anything to do with me. He figured he'd hurt me, make up for years of keeping my ass out of the sling, by hurting you, Liv."
Simon stood up and crossed his arms. "What?"
"We have to go back to the station," Elliot said, turning his back on Dean and pulling Olivia out of the dim café. "You, too, Marsden!"
Simon gave one last threatening look toward Dean Porter, then followed the sister he'd only just met out of the building and into the car.
"Well?" Fin called into the bathroom. "You done yet?"
Casey let out a frustrated grunt as she shouted back, "It's not microwave popcorn, Fin!"
He laughed in spite of the situation, and he sighed as he slid down the wall beyond the bathroom. "If that's a plus sign…ya know…I'm not gonna leave you, Case." He closed his eyes.
"I know," Casey said, slowly opening the door. "But what if it's not?"
He looked up at her, his smile turning slightly sad. "I'm here, Case. I'm not goin' anywhere. This isn't high school, I only…I guess I dated Dani because I still…"
"I'm sorry," Casey said, dropping to the floor beside him. "Fin, I…we can't do this again. It's not fair. We're both always going to wander…you back to Melinda, or Dani, me back to…" She rested her head on his shoulder. "If this turned out to be more than just a scare…I don't…I don't honestly know if you'd be the father." She cringed as the words left her lips.
"Trevor?" he asked, knowing.
She blinked once. "Yeah," she said. "We've been trying to figure things out…he apologized and he said he was gonna make things right. I don't know what that means, but…I believe him, Fin." She sniffled. "I almost married him, Fin. I do…I love him."
"So…this is it, then? For good?" Fin asked, already having his answer. He turned and kissed her forehead, and he whispered, "I will always love you, Novak. First and most."
She looked up at him and smiled. "Same here," she said, and she looked into his eyes and knew that although it hurt to lie to him, things would just be better this way.
"Kathy?" Joey called, running toward the bedroom. "Kath?"
"In here," Kathy shouted from the kitchen. She turned to look at him as he ran through the door. "What's wrong? You look…"
"We have to get to the hospital," he said. "Now." He grabbed her hand and pulled her hard toward the door.
"Is it your mother?" she asked, worried.
He shook his head. "No, no…I…shit, I didn't even call mom, yet. God, It's Tori." He blinked fast and said, "Call Elliot." He thrust her purse into the hand he wasn't clutching. "Just call, Elliot, and tell him it's…just call him."
"Oh, God, Joey, she wasn't…" she stopped, the look in his eyes saying that's exactly what had happened.
"Please, baby," he whispered, "Call Elliot. And Olivia."
She nodded as she followed Joey out of their place and into their car, and she took the phone out of her purse almost as soon as she sat in the passenger seat. She dialed the first number, and only hoped one of them would actually answer her call.
Chester was peeking over the side of the hospital bed, watching his son sleep. "So are we gonna fight for him? Get him back?"
Alex, her arms folded across her chest, shook her head. "I don't know, Chess. I don't even think there's a legal way to…"
"They're in jail," Chester interrupted. "The system 's overloaded with kids, I'm sure the judge would side with the biological parents…us…in this case."
Alex pressed her lips together. "Would you want that? With me?"
"A life? A kid?" He chuckled and moved toward her. "Alex, I wanted that with you years ago. You…you ran from me then, and I'm scared to death you're gonna run now, but I want this. I want you, and our son, and I want to make this work."
"Um, mommy?" a small voice called from the bed. His tiny bottom lip quivered and he looked around, searching. "Mommy?"
Alex looked at Chester, then back at her son. Guilt flooded her and she sighed. She ran toward the bed and scooped up the three year old. "Mommy's right here," she whispered, and she wondered how this was ever going to work.
"Where is she?" Elliot shouted, barreling into the emergency room at Mercy General. His head was pounding, his whole being still reeling from what he'd read in the file Trevor gave him. "Joey, where the hell is she?"
Joey held up both hands. "She's in an exam room," he said. He looked over to his left. "Who are these guys?"
Olivia pointed. "You remember Fin," she said. "And this is John Munch, they…"
"Tori's my sister, we're family. We can't have anything to do with the case," Elliot said. "They're gonna take her statement and…" he tried to control his breathing. "Where was she? Who was she with?"
"She wouldn't tell me," Joey said, biting his lip. "The kids are fine," he said, looking at Olivia, whose mouth was open in preparation to ask that very question. "They're with Nicole."
Olivia nodded and fell deeper into Elliot's arms. He turned and kissed her forehead, taking a deep breath. "Never," he said. "I'm never gonna let anyone…"
His sincere thought was interrupted by a shrill voice. "Where's my daughter?"
The small group turned to see Bernie Stabler shouting at an orderly. Elliot closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said, "Shit." He wrapped one arm around Olivia's shoulders and walked, holding her, over to his mother, hoping to calm her down, and praying his sister was all right. "Munch," he said, turning toward his friend, "If you get a name…"
"You got it," Munch said, before heading for Victoria's room. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. It was gonna be a long night.
A/N: Next: An emotional night for Elliot and Olivia, potty train success, a reunion, a death, and a miracle.