Childish laughter fills the air followed quickly by the patter of shoes.
"I'm gonna get you," a deep voice growls. A broad-shouldered man tip-toes his way across the playground, eyes on his pray. "Here comes the tickle monster."
"Ahh..." a little girl screams, taking off through the sand as fast as her little legs would take her. "Matty, help."
"I'll save you, Kara," Matty yells, following the pair. At six-years-old, Matthew Benson-Stabler is miniature clone of his father, from the knowing gaze of his cerulean blue eyes, to the trademark cocky grin. He dashes after his father, intent on saving his sister. Launching himself onto his father's back, he let out a triumphant shout as Elliot collapses.
"Mama, I defeated the tickle monster," he yells over to where Olivia is sitting in the shade with his baby brother.
"I see, baby." The warm feeling she gets when watching her family still manages to surprise her. Never did she think she'd be married to Elliot Stabler, with three kids of her own. She glances down her youngest child, sleeping in his pusher. Jayden Benson-Stabler was a surprise but a welcome one at that.
Kara, a miniature version of her mother save for the Stabler-blue eyes, had also inherited her mother's compassion, so when Elliot, aka the tickle monster, still hadn't moved, she was instantly by his side.
"Daddy?" she asks, patting at his shoulder. No movement. "Daddy, wake up."
"Argh!" Elliot growls and flips over, expertly snatching both of his children underneath his arms. "I've got you now." Standing up, he does a victory lap around the playground. Matty and Kara scream with laughter at being held upside-down. Setting Kara down first, he allows Matty to monkey climb up his back.
"Mush, daddy," he yells, patting Elliot on his graying head. Elliot complies, galloping around. After a moment, Matty and Kara switch, her honey brown pigtails bouncing along as they gallop.
Kara slithers down after the second lap. "No more, daddy. Imma climb on the playground with Matty."
"Okay, princess. Just make sure you stay where we can see you, okay?" Kara nods. "I'm gonna go still with Mommy." She doesn't answer, already having climbed to the top level with her brother. He watching the pair for a moment, then jogs his way over to sit in the shade with his wife.
"Damn, they're fast," Elliot puffs, dropping down on mat beside Olivia.
"Why, Detective Stabler, are you getting slow in your old age?" She teases, staring down at her husband.
"No," he says indignant. Grinning cockily, he tips his head to the side. "I'll show you slow." Before his could kiss her, Kara calls from the swing set.
"Daddy, come push," she demands. Elliot groans, head dropping to his chest whilst Olivia gives a soft laugh.
"Yep, Mommy's coming," he calls to his youngest daughter.
"Hey!" Olivia glares and swats at her husband. He merely grins at her and gestures to their impatient daughter.
"Go. I'll watch Jayden," he offers, glad to be out of the afternoon heat. At fifty, he is still a relatively fit guy, but compared to twenty years ago, he isn't quite as energetic as his kids. Hearing a small whimper, he looks down to see Jayden is now wide-awake.
"Hey, Jay," he greets, pulling his son free. "Oh, eww," he mutters, realizing Jayden is wet. Placing the small boy on the mat, he expertly switches the old diaper for a fresh one. Jayden, happy now he is clean dry, points over to his siblings.
"Mama, 'wing," he crows, wobbly getting to his feet.
"Yeah, Mama is pushing Kara on the swing. You want to swing, too?" Jayden nods, not tearing his gaze away.
"Okay, buddy." The pair make their way over, and Elliot places Jayden in the carefully designed baby swing.
Pushing it gently, Jayden shrieks in delight. Olivia grins.
"Do you like that, baby?" she coos, switching places so that she is now pushing Jayden and Elliot is pushing Kara.
A tug at his pants makes Elliot look down.
"Can you push me, too, daddy?" Matty asks, trying to sound all grown up.
"Of course." Once Matty is situated, Elliot alternates between pushing his son and daughter. Sensing something, he glances up to see Olivia watching him intently.
"What?" he asks.
"Nothing." Her reply is light. He cocks his head, knowing she is not telling him something but at the same time knowing it is nothing serious. Olivia smiles. After nearly twenty years of partnership, whether it being partnered at work, or being married, Elliot can read her like book.
"I was just thinking."
"This." She gestures first to the kids still swinging, then to Elliot. "How I wouldn't give this up for the world." She blushes, half embarrassed at actually admitting it out loud. Elliot's eyes crinkle. The look his gives her can only be described as pure love.
"Come here," he growls low. Olivia steps into his embrace. He kisses her forehead. "I love you."
"I love you, too." She kisses his mouth, conveying all her feelings into that one movement.
"Eww..." a small voice interrupts. "Matty, they're doing it again," Kara complains. Elliot and Olivia break apart with a laugh.
"Okay, who wants another push?" Olivia asks, casting a glance at her husband. There would be time later to finish what they started.
"Me!" The three children call out happily.
Childish laughter fills the air, completing the moment.