Just want to say I came up with this chapter way before this season was ever thought of…

"Well, Olivia, everything here looks good," Dr. Phillips says as he maneuvers the wand over her growing abdomen. "Baby B is a little bigger, but still not as big as Baby A." He looks over at his patient for some form of understanding, but her mind seems elsewhere. Something is off. She seems…distant. Sad. "But that's ok. A lot of twins are born at different sizes. So do either of you have any questions?"

"Will Baby B always be this far behind Baby A, or do you think he will catch up?" Elliot asks.

"He? I never said you were having a boy."

"So it's a girl then?"

"You guys made me promise not to tell. So I'm not telling. Nice try though. Didn't you say this guy was a detective Olivia? You'd think he'd have better tricks huh?"

There is no smile on Olivia's face. She has no plans to participate in this ongoing joke. She does not give two shits what the sex of these twins are. She just wants them healthy. That is all that matters. She wants to go home. To her bed. And her daytime TV. She is missing her novellas. "Are we done here?" She asks instead.

"Umm. Yea, actually, I am. Do you have any questions?"

"No."

"Would you like a photo?"

"Whatever," she answers with a wave of her hand.

"Ok then. Well I'll print out a couple, and Elliot, can you follow me to get the picture while I answer his question. I'm running a bit behind and this will help me save some time." He heads out the door and Elliot follows behind him.

"So will-"

"Baby B will keep growing and so will Baby A; how close they'll come within each other is unknown. What's going on with your wife?"

"What do you mean?"

"C'mon Elliot, don't pull that with me. Olivia was one of the happiest pregnant women I ever came across when she was pregnant with your daughter. Despite what was going on with you two. This pregnancy she's been different. Now I know there's been a bit more with the surgery, but still. That woman in there is not the Olivia I know. The past couple of weeks she's been distant and irritable. So what's going on? Is it something with you two?"

"No. Everything with us is fine. Yes, she's been different, but she's pregnant with twins. Hormonal and, like you said, she just had surgery. There's nothing to worry about here."

"Do I look like an idiot to you, Mr. Stabler?"

"Excuse me?"

"I'm your wife's doctor. Not some random giddy school girl looking for gossip."

"The hell you-"

"It's affecting the pregnancy," Dr. Phillips tells him and Elliot swallows hard.

"What do you mean?"

"Her blood pressure is up. Which, not only affects her, but the babies as well. The twins are also starting to show signs of distress. I've wanted to move Olivia down from biweekly appointments to just weekly, but I can't. Because of this. Now, you want to continue hiding things, fine. Just know that you are putting your wife's and your children's lives in danger. There's a therapist-"

"No. She doesn't need a therapist. I will talk to her. I will figure out what's going on, and I will fix this."

"Your next appointment is Friday. If she's anything like this then I'm taking action. I'm not going to let your ego-"

"It's not my ego. I just… I want a chance to fix this on my own. Like you said if she's no better or worse by Friday, then I myself will request the business card of that doctor. I wouldn't let my ego get in the way of family's health. Now can I have my photos so I can be on my way."

Mark eyes him for a moment, before heading to the printer and retrieving the photos. He hands them to Elliot without another word, and Elliot heads back into the examination room. There he finds Olivia seated on the exam table.

"Took you long enough," she says, clearly annoyed.

"There was a paper jam over at the printer."

"Right. You two have a nice conversation about me?"

"There was no conversation. You ready to go?"

"No. I'm too fucking huge to see my swollen feet so I can't get my fucking shoes back on."

"Alright, I can help you with that," he says and hands her the photos. "Hold these please?" he asks then bends down to help slip her feet into her flats. "Anything else?"

"My coat."

He holds it open for her and she puts her arms into the sleeves. He zips it up for her, and then takes her free hand in his and leads her out of the doctor's office. As they drive through the streets of Manhattan she is quiet. "Hey, how about we grab some lunch?"

"That's ok. I just want to get home."

"C'mon. We haven't been out to eat in ages. You haven't been out to eat in ages. You barely leave the house."

"Because I've been on bed rest," she says slowly as if speaking to a child.

"Mark took you off bed rest two weeks ago."

"But I still need to take it easy."

"How is sitting at a table and having people serve you any different from what you do at home?"

"Elliot, give it a fucking rest and just drive me the fuck home. Can you do that? Or is that too much for you to handle?" Elliot drives the rest of the way in silence, but when he pulls up outside of a building that is not their home, she turns to him floored. "Elliot? What the fuck is this?"

"We're going out to lunch."

"I don't want to go out to lunch. I want you to take me home."

"No."

"Elliot! Take. Me. Home," she growls.

"No."

"The hell, Elliot!"

"Something's been going on with you for the past couple of weeks, and I want you to talk to me."

"We've been over this. I can't talk to you."

"Yea, well I need you to try."

"Elliot," she whines, and her resolve cracks and the tears flow through. "Please, I just want to go home."

"I need you to talk to me first. I'm your husband, you should be able to tell me what's been bothering you."

"No. I can't talk to you about this."

"Why?"

"I just… I can't."

"Olivia."

"Elliot, the one person I want to talk to about this, that I can talk to about this, is gone. Because I gave him up for you."

"Don't. Don't do that. I never told you-"

"Like you would ever look at me the same if I didn't. Let alone love me."

"That's not true."

"That's bullshit and you know it!"

"I'd never stop loving you."

"Yea right," she scoffs.

"Well whether you believe me or not isn't the issue right now. The fact of the matter is that he isn't here right now, I am. Now talk to me."

Her lower lip trembles and she wipes away tears. "I don't know how."

He feels defeated, because his wife can't talk to him, and he doesn't know how to fix this. He doesn't know how to make her trust him. He doesn't know what to say to let her know that she can confide in him. He's spent too much time showing her the opposite and now it has officially come back to bite him in the ass. He sighs and thinks back to a couple of months ago. A meeting held without her knowledge in a small coffee house not far from where they are now…

xXx

"So why am I here?"

"We need to talk."

"Talk about what?"

"My wife."

Peter grins at him mischievously. "Nothing is going on, Elliot. We're friends."

"And we both know that's a load a bullshit. So let's just both be honest here. I'll start. I don't like you. I think you're playing my wife and all you want to do is screw her."

Peter laughs. "Alright. Honestly? You don't deserve her."

"How do you figure?"

"From what I've heard, you're a know-it-all, self righteous bastard that has his head so far up his ass that he can't see how lucky he is to have someone amazing like Olivia in his life, let alone as his wife."

"Well, you're entitled to your own opinion, but let me just say this. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for every second I get spend with her."

"You should. You should thank Him for every second of every day of every year for allowing her to fall in love with an asshole like you."

"Look, I didn't come here for this. I came here for two things."

"What?"

"One. To tell you to stay the hell away from my wife. We're trying to work things out for our family. Our kids."

"Don't throw your kids in my face, because you accused her of carrying my child instead of yours and you didn't give a damn about your daughter when you moved a drug addict into your home, left her with a disgruntled teenager, and then gave her that blueberry Nutrigrain bar."

"That was an accident."

"Yea, ask your wife if that's the way she sees it. As an accident."

"Sure, and you stay away from my wife. Don't call her. Don't text her. Don't email her. If you see her pretend you don't see her. If you see her on the street, turn around and walk the other way."

"I'll do as I please. But I'll tell ya what. I'll make it easy for you and keep my distance and I won't seek her out, but if she contacts me, all bets are off."

"I guess I can agree with that."

"Deal. Now what's the second thing?"

"I…I need your help."

"My help?"

"Yes."

"Well, I guess hell just froze over. What do you need my help for?"

"She…she talks to you. In a way she doesn't talk to me. She's not afraid to open herself up to you, and she used to be like that with me, but not anymore, and I need to know why, and I need know how to fix it."

"Here's why: you're an asshole. Here's how you fix it: stop being an asshole."

Elliot moves to get up. "This is a waste of time, I don't know why I even bothered."

"Wait. Wait, Elliot. sit back down." Elliot glares at him. "Sit!" Elliot sits back down across from him, and he takes a deep breath. "I'm going to help you. But let's just get something straight right now. Had I met her just one day, one second, before she met you. We wouldn't be having this conversation right now. Because she would be at home pregnant with my kids instead of yours, and believe me, partner or not, you wouldn't even be a factor. So think about that the next time you decide you want to hurt her. Think about how lucky you are, that you met and married her first. Second, the only reason why I'm helping you right now is because I love her more than I hate you, and I love her enough to let her go because for some fucked up reason she loves you. And fixing her marriage with you will make her happy and that's all that matters to me. That she's happy. So… first thing's first. She's not going to want to talk to you. Too much has happened between you two. Too many hurtful things have been said by both of you. Especially you, so she doesn't trust you anymore. Whether your meant it or not. Whether you realized it or not. They were said. Plain and simple. So if you want her to talk to you, you're going to have to make her talk to you."

"How?"

"She's stubborn. So she's going to fight you tooth and nail about it, but you're going to have to insist. Be annoying about it. If there's something specific you want to talk about, you will have to bring it up at every chance you get. Don't just let her wiggle out of it. Or change the subject. Bring it up, again and again, and insist."

xXx

"Try. Please."

"Let's just forget about it. Where are we anyway?"

"No, Olivia. Talk to me. I'm here to listen."

She sighs and stares out the window without saying a word for what seems like forever. He's just about to pester her once again when finally. She speaks. "I'm scared…All the time I'm scared."

"Scared of what?"

"Everything."

…She doesn't think you listen, and she's wrong and right at the same time. You hear her but you don't seem understand her. Try to understand what she's trying to say to you. Try to hear everything she's not saying.

"Everything like what?"

"Oh never mind. Please, Elliot, just take me home."

…The thing about your wife is that she tells you everything and nothing all at the same time. You need to learn to read between the lines. You're a detective right? Dig deeper. Don't take anything at face value. Ask her what she means, just be careful about what, and how, you ask…

He thinks quickly. "Is it the babies? Is that what you're scared about? Because if you are-"

…Don't belittle her. Don't make her feel like her feelings don't matter or that she is stupid for feeling them. She hates it when you do that…

"I'm scared, too."

She turns to look at him, surprised. He can tell that she wasn't expecting that to come out of his mouth. "Yea?"

…Make yourself vulnerable for her. She's afraid to be vulnerable with you because she doesn't want you to see her differently. So you be vulnerable first. She'll see what you're doing and it will make her more likely to open up to you…

"Of course, Liv. The entire time you were in that hospital, I was terrified. Those were the worst three days of my life. I've been on edge since we found out that there was something wrong."

"I'm scared… all the time. Every morning I wake up, I'm surprised I'm not laying in a hospital bed. Every time I feel one of them move or kick, it worries me when it should be the opposite. I mean the fact that they're moving and kicking means that they're ok, but I just have a hard time seeing it that way. That's why I don't like to leave the house. I know that as long as I'm resting in my bed, the chances of something happening go down."

"Olivia-"

…Careful how you say things to her. Watch your words and your tone…

"…the doc says you're doing great. You're doing everything right. Worrying like this. Stressing out like this is what's hurting you."

"Is that what you guys were talking about?"

"Yea. Mark says your pressure is a little high, and its probably due to the stress. I get that you're scared. But you can't live in fear forever. It's not good for you, and it's not good for them."

"I know, but that doesn't change the way I feel."

"Well, try going out for a little bit everyday. Something as small as picking Kayla up from daycare. It will get you out the house, and some fresh air, I think it will be good for you."

"I'll think about it."

"So what else?"

"Hmm?"

"What else is bothering you?"

"Nothing. That was it."

"Olivia, I know you better than that. Tell me. Talk to me."

"I can't," she says, her voice hoarse.

"You can."

"No, I can't. You'll never look at me the same."

"That's not true."

"It is."

"It's not. Olivia I'm your husband, you can confide in me about anything."

"No I-"

"Yes, you can. Talk to me. Tell me what's been bothering you."

"I feel guilty."

"Ok. Why?"

"Because," she does her best to hold back tears. "There was a point where I didn't want them. Where I thought about," she sniffles. "Getting an abortion."

"What?"

…Don't judge her. If you do she'll know, and she will never trust you again. She needs to know she can be herself without you thinking differently about her…

"I know, I'm a horrible person. We were fighting, and I was being stupid and selfish. I didn't want to be a single mom with three kids. I didn't want to do it on my own so I thought about… and now I feel like I'm being punished because now I want them. I love them so much and it kills me to know that I did this to them. That I'm the reason they're going through this."

"Olivia, you're being-"

…Not every smart ass comment that comes to your head needs to be said. Sometimes it's better to just shut the fuck up. She knows you. She'll know what you want to say, but she'll respect you more for keeping your fucking mouth shut…

"…too hard on yourself." He's surprised when she cries and her sobs hurt him. "Olivia, you're not a bad person."

"I am," she cries. He reaches for her hand, but she pulls it away. He tries again, but she holds him at arm's length.

…Don't let her push you away. Don't just give up on her. Fight for her. No one ever has…

He gets out and walks around to her side of the car. He pulls her door open then stoops down and pulls her into his arms. "This is not your fault. This is not your fault. If it wasn't for you, they probably wouldn't be with us right now. You're a good mom."

"I'm not," she cries into his neck.

"You are. You're so strong and brave, and you'd risk everything for any one of them. You're a good mom. Don't ever stop believing that."

"Do you still love me?"

"Nothing you do will ever make me stop loving you."

"Even though I'm fat?"

He laughs and pulls back to look at her. He tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and smiles. "You're beautiful."

"I'm a beached whale. I'm already the same size I was when I was almost nine months with Kayla, and I still have four months to go."

He stares at her and smiles. Face flushed, red nosed, and bleary eyes and she's still the most beautiful woman he ever had the pleasure to lay eyes on. "You're beautiful. Now, if you don't mind, I would like to take my beautiful wife out to lunch."

"Don't you have to go back to work?"

"I took the rest of the day off so I could spend some quality time with you. I wanna take you home and have some fun," he grins and winks at her.

Make her smile. It'll help her remember the conversation as an enjoyable experience and it may even make her think about engaging in another conversation with you…

She rolls her eyes and shakes her head, but smiles nonetheless. "You heard what Mark said. No sex."

"I talked with Mark when he took you off restricted bed rest. He let me know what was ok and what wasn't. Now, shall we?"

"Hmm. Now that you say that, maybe we can skip lunch and go straight to desert?" she asks, ginning mischievously.

"Oh no. Lunch first. You- I mean, desert later."

xXx

They walk out of the restaurant hand in hand. Olivia in better much spirits after plenty of French fries dipped in sweet honey mustard and an oreo brownie sundae covered in hot fudge and caramel. "Hey, this guy has strawberries, mind if we go over there?" He asks and she nods in agreement. They head over to the small bodega and she busies herself looking through the man's large arrangement of flowers as well as fruits.

"As I live and breathe. Benson, is that you?"

She looks up at the familiar voice and smiles when she sees that it belongs to exactly who she thinks it does. "Well if it isn't Brian Cassidy."

He walks over and hugs her quickly. "I see you've been busy. Is this your first?"

"No. Second and third. We have a two-year-old named Kayla as well."

"Wow. You've been really busy."

"What about you?"

He flips out his wallet and shows her a picture of him with his arms around a beautiful blonde, and another with two children. The girl a brunette, the boy a blonde. "That's my wife Darcy, and this is Matt, 2, and this here is Judith, she's 4. Maybe my boy and your girl can get together some day."

"Yea, over my husband's dead body."

"Husband?" She smiles wiggles her diamond ring in front of his face. "Who's the lucky guy?"

"Hey Liv, you ready?" Elliot calls.

"No," Cassidy says in disbelief. "Olivia, I know I said you'd always be married to the job, but this is a bit much."

She laughs fully and heartily. "What can I say, the heart wants what it wants."

"Well, I wish it would have told me. I wouldn't have wasted my time falling for you all those years ago if I knew the whole time all you wanted was your partner."

"I wasn't in love with him then."

"Wasn't in love with me when," Elliot asks as he comes up behind her. "Cassidy, you're not interrogating my wife are you now?"

"No no. Just a friendly conversation. Showing off the kids and such. How've you been?" Cassidy asks and shakes Elliot's hand.

"Good, you?"

"Great."

"Still in narcotics?"

"No. I transferred to Homicide after my daughter was born. Couldn't do the undercover stints anymore."

"I understand."

"How 'bout you? Still working special victs?"

"Yea. Olivia transferred to computer crimes after our daughter was born. Speaking of which, did Liv show you a pic?"

"She did not." Elliot whips out his wallet and points out their daughter. "Wow, that little girl is definitely a Stabler. Especially with those eyes."

"Yea, but she's definitely her mother's daughter." Olivia elbows him in the gut. "I meant that in the nicest way possible."

"She's got your smile, Liv, and that hair. Well let's just say we both know where she didn't get it from."

"Very funny, Cassidy."

"Well I gotta get going. On the job."

"Alright, well we'll talk later."

Cassidy takes out a business card and jots down a number on the back. "My desk and cell are on the front, and that's my house on the back. Call so we can set up a play date. My wife and I meet up with my partner and one of my buddies from narcotics every other Saturday, and let the kids play. Drink coffee and talk. It's a good time. You guys should come."

"Sure," Elliot says.

"Call Darcy, she'll set it up," Brian calls over his shoulder as he walks away.

"Well, that was a blast from the past," Elliot says as he looks over the card.

"Yea. I haven't talked to him in years. Though this play date thing might be weird given our past."

"It's only weird if you make it weird." He pulls his hand that she didn't realize he was hiding from behind his back and produces a bouquet of red roses. "Happy Valentine's Day Liv."

She smiles and takes the proffered gift. "Thank you. They're beautiful," she says then kisses him.

"It gets better. The vender had chocolate covered strawberries."

…Romance her. Take her out for dinner. Buy her flowers. Spice up your bedroom. She may be a hard as nails detective, but she's still a woman. Treat her like one. Treat her like the woman you love. Treat her like the woman you can't live without. Treat her like a Queen…