DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and its characters. TStabler© owns the narrative, dialogue and plot of this story
Elliot sat beside the bed for hours, staring at Olivia, at the baby in her arms. When it was time to say goodnight to their new little girl, they both cried, held her as long as they could, and waved as the nurse carried her out of the room for the evening.
Olivia fell asleep not too long after, having had a rough night herself, but he wasn't tired. He was more awake than ever. His mind was racing, his thoughts and stomach both churning. He shifted in the stiff chair, squeezed her hand, and looked down at her angelic face.
What she went through for him tonight meant more to him than anything. She had taken bullets for him, she had killed for him, but tonight, she brought his child into the world. She gave him a new little legacy.
Hayden Bernadette Stabler was born at midnight, after a grueling and difficult thirty-two hours. Relentlessly, Olivia fought and pushed and stayed strong to meet her daughter, Elliot held her hand through it all. When the baby's cry finally filled the small delivery room, they both knew it was all worth it.
Elliot helped her count; ten little fingers, ten tiny toes. She looked up at them with the most breathtaking blue eyes and full head of dark curls. He held them both in his arms as long as he could, overwhelmed by everything happening around him.
He had time to take it all in, as he sat in the dark silence, watching his wife sleep. He thought his life was set in stone, until the night he was faced with losing her. He never wanted another child, not until he made it his life's goal to make her a mother. He struggled with how complicated his life had always been, how complex and confusing his relationship with Olivia was from day one.
He held his breath when he felt her move. He watched her as she rolled a bit in the bed, moaned slightly, and the smile on her face widened.
He bent over and brushed his lips over hers softly, a smile of his own across his mouth. He mentally listed the definitions they'd carried for years: partners, friends, colleagues, lovers, husband and wife, and now parents, and he realized that each one still mattered. Each one still pertained to them, and always would.
Their relationship was always going to be complicated, they would always battle for control and try to outsmart each other, they would always have a thin string of tension between them that would only dissipate after a rough night in bed. It was who they were, who they are, and who they always would be. Always.
He realized, as he gazed at her sleeping form, that being complicated wasn't bad. For them, it was perfection.
"What time is it?" she whispered, her voice scratchy and her eyes still closed.
"Time for you to go back to sleep," he whispered back to her. "You must be…"
"Exhausted," she finished. "Yeah. I'm also wide awake because my husband is staring at me like I'm gonna burst into flames any minute now." Her eyes opened, she smiled at him. "Why aren't you sleeping, Daddy?"
He smirked, inched closer to her, and whispered, "Because it's my job to watch over you. I can't do that if I'm sleeping."
She took a deep breath and snuggled deeper into her pillow, squeezing his hand in hers. "Try it again without the heroics."
He sighed and closed his eyes. "I can't stop thinking…about you. Me. Us. The baby."
"If you close your eyes, you know, you can still think," she told him through a yawn. "It's called dreaming."
"Wise ass," he laughed. He kissed her cheek and said, "I just…how the hell did this happen?" He shook his head and shrugged. "One minute, I've got you up against the wall of the cribs, fucking you like my life depends on it…the next, I'm coaching you through the birth of our child. It just happened so fast, Liv. And to be honest, I never thought it would. Not till you came home and…"
"Made things complicated," she mumbled, her eyes closing again.
"No," he whispered. "You made everything so simple." He rose from his chair, still holding her hand, and he worked his way into her bed. "You made every choice so easy to make, you made me think so clearly, and…I will never be able to thank you for that."
She rolled into him, wrapped one arm around him as best she could, and she said, "You already have. She's in the nursery, sound asleep."
He laughed as his eyes closed, and he felt himself drifting off. "Love you," he muttered.
She could do no more than hum in agreement. She was asleep. Thinking. Dreaming.
Dickie, from the doorway, smiled at the sight before him, and he turned to look at the woman standing over his shoulder. "See that?" he asked.
Hannah nodded. "That's love," she said, rocking the four month old boy in her arms.
"That's what we have to work on," he said, walking toward her. "We can have that, eventually, right?"
Hannah blinked. "I thought you said you…"
"If I have learned anything from my stepmother," he interrupted, "It's that blood doesn't make a family. She loves me like her own son, she always has." He rolled his neck a bit. "Besides, my name is on his birth certificate. Legally, I am his father. And, God willing, he will never have to know it's not the truth."
"You're serious?" she asked, holding the baby out to him.
Dickie took the boy and smiled down at his sleeping face. "It's not that hard, Hannah. It doesn't have to be." He looked up at her. "We could be like my parents. We could be happy."
Hannah nodded, tears in her eyes, and she dropped her forehead to his.
"It's okay," Dickie whispered as his eyes traveled from the tiny boy's face to the bed again, he knew he was being watched. He smiled and nodded at his father.
Watching and hearing his son made his heart stop. Seeing him with the baby made him smile and he suddenly missed his own newborn. He kissed Olivia, still sleeping, and eased out of the bed. He walked, straight and quick, past his son and down the hall. He picked up his pace, breezing by doctors and nurses, and he stopped at the end of the hallway in front of the glass. He was panting as the gasps turned to laughter. "There you are," he breathed.
One palm pressed up against the window, the other landed on his heart, and he spotted his daughter immediately. "Liv," he whispered, looking at her. She was the spitting image of her mother, with her father's eyes. A tear rolled down his cheek and he sniffled.
His life ended and began again as he watched her little eyelids flutter. When they opened, and she looked right at him, he gasped and grinned. He grabbed the attention of a nurse and asked to hold her, to bring her back into the room where his wife lay sleeping.
He walked back through the door with the pink bundle in his arms, and he sat next to Olivia in the bed. He kissed his daughter's forehead, and then his wife's, and he knew. After years of battling and struggling, years of living in a world of complication, he finally found simple perfection.