Olivia was upset at first about being put on leave, but eventually she realized it wasn't such a bad thing. In a certain light, the leave had uncomplicated her life. It had given her time with Cassidy she would have otherwise not had.
She went with Brian to his mother's house the next morning and was alarmed at Mrs. Cassidy's excitement when the couple walked in the door.
"Olivia! It's so nice to see you, and thank you for taking care of my baby," Mrs. Cassidy had gleamed, patting her son's shoulder.
Brian later confessed when they left that his mother had always had a liking for Olivia, even back when they worked together. He also admitted that she was the only woman he'd slept with who had been introduced to his mother since he'd turned eighteen.
"Do I dare ask how many women you've been with?" Olivia asked later that evening as she was making dinner. It was the first time her stovetop had been used in months. She and Brian had visited the grocery store earlier that day and picked up a few boxes of macaroni and cheese, some fresh milk, and some butter. Macaroni and cheese seemed like the most romantic meal ever.
"I could ask you the same question, you know, but I haven't." Brian was quick to point out.
She was no saint, either, and she knew it.
"Okay, then how many escorts have you been with?" Both knew exactly who she was referring to.
"Just one," he was quick to respond. "How many one-night stands have you had?"
"A few." Truthfully, she couldn't remember. There were probably more than a few; plenty of which she'd been too drunk to remember if they'd actually had sex. David Haden had been her only exclusive relationship over the last fifteen years. She wasn't a slut; she just liked how sex felt and relationships just didn't seem to work in her favor. Just because she sucked at relationships didn't mean she had to be deprived of sex. She always used barriers for protection, and she was tested regularly and knew for a fact that she was clean.
"So I guess I'm not special."
Olivia could tell Brian was still hurting for what had happened years ago. He'd wanted more, but she hadn't been willing to give him that at the time. The pain was still present in his voice.
"Brian, it's the past. You've said it yourself," she spoke slowly. "And you are special, because I can assure you all my one-night stands have only been one-night stands. You are the only one I ever wanted to be with again, even twelve years later." She leaned over and kissed him again.
"You're right. Liv, we've got to quit doing this."
"Dwelling on each other's pasts. We've both been with other people, but the sex we shared twelve years ago, and the sex we shared the night Carissa was murdered—I haven't forgotten about that night—actually meant something to me. It was different than all the rest. I don't know if you felt it or not."
"Twelve years ago I didn't feel it," Olivia admitted. She saw him frown. "Twelve years ago you were just like the all the rest. I may not have been like all the rest for you, but I'm being honest here. That night…last week…before Cragen called…was different."
"So, what you're saying is it took you twelve years to feel what I feel," he said; she nodded, realizing that was the simple truth. "I guess it's better late than number."
"I've just been so confused with these mixed feelings. I care about you, Brian. It's just…I've never known life outside the job. I've tried it, and it never worked out…and I know you want a serious relationship."
"You're the only woman I've wanted a serious relationship with."
"So you've said, and I want to be happy…I want to have an actual life…but my job…"
"I know, I've known all these years…Liv, you've got to let loose. Here I am, 42. I pictured myself married with a baby by 30. Now I don't know if I'll ever have children. I see dads in the park running after their kids."
She could completely relate. Although she knew relationships had never been her thing, especially after watching over Calvin, she'd begun to desire to have a child herself.
"Liv, question…it's sort of personal."
"What's that? No question is too personal for me."
"Do you…are you…still…"
She knew where this going.
"Yes, Brian. I still have my period…"
"So that means…you're still…fertile?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "As far as I know, I am. I'm 44 years old, well past the age most women bear children. There's plenty of ways women become infertile. How do I know if I was ever fertile? I've never tried to conceive, and I've never once had sex without a condom."
"Neither have I," Cassidy said, "so for all we know, we're both infertile…then my dream is shot."
"Well, if I am and you're not, you have plenty of time to find someone else. I've heard of 80-year-old men having children."
"That's kind of disturbing to think about…"
"Didn't say it wasn't," she said.
"Liv," he murmured, wrapping his arms around her waist just as she'd started separating the macaroni and cheese into two bowls. He lightly kissed her neck and whispered in her ear, "Let's make a baby."
Before she could comment on Brian's alarming statement, her cell phone began ringing for the first time that day.
It was the same New York number that had called her yesterday.
"Hello? Who is this? Whoever you are, speak."
"Liv?" a muffled male voice said just before the line went dead again.
"Same number as before?" Brian asked, rubbing Olivia's shoulders. She nodded. "Well, we now know it's a man who's calling you. Did you recognize the voice?"
She shook her head. "The voice was muffled and it's difficult to recognize voices over the phone, plus it's so easy to disguise your voice… but he called me Liv."
"Doesn't everyone call you 'Liv', Liv?" Brian chuckled, grabbing a bowl of macaroni and cheese. He sat down at the table and began eating. "Come and eat, Liv. I'm starved."
But she didn't move. She was disturbed by the reoccurring phone call. No, contrary to what Brian had said, not everyone called her Liv. She could rule out it being a random person who might have gotten ahold of her card with her number on it. Whoever kept calling her, knew her personally, and knew her well enough to call her 'Liv.' Maybe it is Amaro checking up on me, Olivia pondered. What if he had purchased a disposable cell phone to mess with her? It didn't seem entirely impossible. If it was Amaro, she was going to kill him.
"I was just contemplating who it could be."
"Have you considered calling the number back? If they don't answer, maybe you'll reach their voicemail and that'll give you their name."
Why hadn't she thought about that?
"You're a genius, Brian!" Olivia cried.
"I know, I know."
Olivia rolled her eyes and hit the "redial" button on her phone. The phone rang five times before reaching a voicemail. "You have reached the number 212-555-5432, and whoever you are trying to reach is unavailable right now, please leave a message after the beep." It was a general automatic voicemail message that left her back at square one. Oh well, it was worth a try.
"Or maybe not," Olivia moaned.
"You tried, now get some food and eat," Brian demanded, his mouth half full of macaroni and cheese. She sighed and followed his orders, picking up her own bowl and joining him at the table.
"It's driving me crazy," she said as she ate. "I did have one thought."
"What's that?" Brian asked in between bites.
"What if it's Amaro calling to mess with my head?"
"I'll kill him," Brian looked up from his bowl.
"Not if I kill him first," Olivia insisted. "I mean, really, I don't think he'd do that, but I don't know who else it could be."
"The man put a gun up to my head, Liv. It really, honestly wouldn't surprise me."
He had a point.
"So…" Brian began slowly, his bowl was empty already.
"Before the phone rang and we were interrupted, what do you think about what I said?"
"Huh?" Then she remembered. "Oh…yeah…I don't know, Brian. I always pictured myself, well, married before I had a child…"
"And I pictured myself married before the age of 30, but did that happen? Then let's get married. Let's elope!"
Olivia dropped her fork instantly. "That's the craziest most absurd thing I've ever heard! No, we can't do that."
"Why not?" Brian asked. "Who are you going to invite? The whole SVU squad? Seriously, the only ones I'd even consider inviting are Munch and Cragen, and maybe Fin, he seems cool. And guess there's that blonde cop. I don't think Amaro would show if you invited him."
"Her name's Amanda, and I'd have to track down Casey and Alex, they're former ADAs of SVU, they were after your time…" And Elliot, she thought, but she had no contact information for him.
"And who am I going to invite? The only person I even want at my wedding is my mother. Dad's never been part of my life; all I've got is my mother. My mom loves you, so I know she'll approve. Come on, Liv, marry me."
There was a long pause. Olivia felt tears building behind her eyeballs.
"Liv, are you okay? What's wrong? I thought you wanted me like I want you."
"I-I do…it's just…I barely know you, Cassidy."
"Don't be silly. You've known me for fourteen years," Cassidy laughed.
"Not consecutively. You had been out of my life for twelve of those years. People change over time, and over these last few weeks, I think it's safe to say that you have changed quite a bit during the time you were away from SVU. You're not the same kid you used to be."
"You're right. I have changed, but I've changed for the better," Cassidy assured.
"This is all happening so fast," Olivia whispered, holding back tears. "I suck at relationships, and that's because I'm terrified of commitment."
That was when Brian stood. He walked over to Olivia's chair and slowly got on one knee. Olivia could tell he was still stiff, and she assumed he would be for a while longer. He grabbed her hand and dazzlingly gazed into her eyes. He grabbed her hand and gently massaged her palm. "Olivia, I've loved you for so long now. I don't have a ring on me, but I'll get one as soon as possible. I kneel here, asking for your hand in marriage. I promise to cherish you for the rest of your life and never hurt you. Olivia Benson, will you marry me?"
Moisture built in her throat. A tear slowly rolled down her cheek and then she uttered, "Yes, Brian Cassidy. I will." At the same time those words exited her mouth, she wondered what the hell she was getting herself into.
Her macaroni and cheese remained untouched; she just wasn't hungry anymore. Olivia soon found herself in Brian's arms. Their lips met as they shared a kiss. He ran his hands down her waist, and they landed on her butt. He whispered, "So?"
"Not until we're married," she murmured, knowing exactly what he wanted.
"Since when did you become so persistent on waiting until marriage?" Cassidy teased.
"Besides, you're still sore. I don't want to reopen any wounds. You can wait."
"I have the rest of my life to wait," he smiled. "It's your biological clock that's ticking away."
"If it's meant to be, it will be," she said in a firm tone.
Wasn't that the case with everything in life? She would openly admit that she was a little uncomfortable with Brian's sudden obsession to have a child. But she understood his reasoning completely. This could be her last chance to be a mother.