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wish i could tell you that i love you but i can't. wish i could call you in the morning but i can't. wish i could tell you that i miss you but i can't, this is not a love song. i get excited when you kiss me like that, when we're body to body like that. wish i could tell you that i want you more than that, but this is not a love song.

♡♡♡

To say that she was happy would be the biggest understatement of the day. But for Olivia Benson, happiness wasn't something she got to revel in for very long. And that was where she was at now, the dull ache in her chest as she watched him slip out of their position on the couch. "Why can't you say? We can talk about this more." Her voice is quiet, betraying her commonly strong demeanour.

Their conversation had shifted, not even discussing the files that had been spread on her coffee table and surrounding floor. Somehow, they had brought up their personal lives, how she didn't have time to date anyone and how she wanted to be careful because of Noah. Plus they both knew that Noah and her job came first. And for him, it was the same. Well, the job aspect was. He had always gotten so swept up in cases that even getting drinks with the squad after a case seemed to be an exhausting effort when he really just wanted to go home and sleep.

But the hypotheticals became reality when she told him how she felt. About him.

He would be lying if he said he didn't consider it, that he hadn't thought about it in a few fleeting moments over the years. Squabbling at eighty-five. That was what they meant to each other. But in that moment, he was scared. Terrified, that if they got into that and it didn't work out... work would be uncomfortable, their friendship, nearly six years in the making, all of it would go up in smoke.

"There's nothing left to talk about, Liv." He wanted to, more than anything he wanted to wrap his arms around her and never let her go. But for Rafael Barba, happiness wasn't something he got to revel in for very long either. And he was already hurting her, despite the clear feelings between them.

"Rafa," she tried again, her brown eyes filling with tears. She wasn't sad, now she was angry, but she couldn't get her tears to stop. "If you leave now..." Don't bother coming back, was all she could think, but she didn't say it out loud.

Unfortunately for her, her voice didn't hold out like she was hoping it would.

Green eyes searched brown as he tried to see if she was bluffing. She wasn't. "I'm sorry, Liv." He mumbled, pulling his jacket on and leaving her apartment.

♡♡♡

She wasn't supposed to be this upset, their conversation had been hypotheticals. Mostly. But she wasn't going to try and pretend she was okay, especially when her appearance, despite makeup and eye drops, gave her away. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot and her chest ached from the heavy sobs that kept her up all night.

Olivia Benson had put it all out there, and ended up in her apartment, sitting on her bed crying and alone. Just like she had feared.

The only solace she got was the peace and quiet in the elevator before she stepped out into the hall. Even from where she was, she recognized Amanda's voice; an octave higher and her accent thicker, as it always was when she was angry.

Who is she yelling at so early?

"You know as well as I do that none of this is going to hold up in court! Any judge would be able to see that from a mile away!" 

Barba.

Shit.

Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to walk into the squad room, her hand gripping her coffee cup tighter than was probably necessary. "Fighting before eight am? Hell of a way to start the week." Was the way she greeted her squad, and she supposed by extension, Barba. But she wasn't even giving him a fleeting glance like she normally would.

"Liv, the Counsellor says we need to get him more evidence, but we've already combed through the scene three times." Fin looked up from the files on the table in front of them, dropping a photo back on top.

Taking a long sip of her coffee, Olivia thought about various courses of action. "Alright, Rollins, Carisi go back to the alley one more time and see if there's even a chance that we missed something. Fin, go through witness statements again, check traffic cameras, anything we can find from inside or outside that club." She instructed, the team nodding in return at their assignments.

"And you expect me to do what, exactly? Sit around here and wait?" The question came out with more malice than he'd intended, causing both of them to wince slightly.

It was that moment that Rollins and Carisi excused themselves, grabbing their coats and heading out of the bullpen. Fin stood up with excuse of needing another cup of coffee and ducked into the break room.

When the two were alone, or at least as alone as they could be in the precinct, Olivia shot Barba a glare that could burn him into the ground if looks could kill. "I don't care what you do as long as it's not here. And the next time you pull that in front of my squad, it'll be more than me simply telling you to leave."

"Liv..." He started, but was promptly cut off by her slamming the door to her office.

Turning on his heel, Barba walked as quickly as he could from the building.

He had really messed up.

♡♡♡

He hadn't been counting the days, but he was sure it had been at least a week since he'd walked out of her apartment. It was actually about two weeks.

But somehow, despite her warnings, he was there again, knocking on the door.

He could hear her as she moved through the living room and stopped at the door, probably looking through the peephole to see who would be visiting her so late.

"Barba, I'm not really in the mood..." She sounded exhausted; like she'd been crying for far too long.

They hadn't won the case, the victim and the squad took it hard, but they still went out for drinks. Well all of them except Olivia. She had gone home, relieved Lucy of her duties after thanking her profusely as she always did, and spent the night with Noah.

"Liv... Olivia, please open the door." He wasn't above begging anymore. He knew what he wanted, what he needed. It was her.

It had always been her.

Slowly, the door pulled open and his earlier suspicions had been proven. She looked exhausted, her eyes were still as red and puffy as they had been throughout the case. There were times, offers to work on the case, have takeout and try to figure out what to do, had almost been put on the table; but they were always rescinded. Not wanting to cross the new boundaries that the two had unknowingly put up between them.

"I'm not usually one who... does what we do, Liv." He muttered, tapping the toe of his shoe on the ground behind him.

"It's not like we were sleeping together, Barba. I just... thought you may want more than just dinners and work talk. I guess I was wrong." She shook her head, her limp brown curls falling in her face as she turned her gaze to the floor.

It was then that Barba could really see the damage of what he'd done. They had gotten close, closer than she'd allowed herself to get to someone in a long time. And he'd hurt her in a failed attempt to keep either of them from getting their hearts broken.

"Liv, I know it doesn't seem like it, but I never wanted to hurt you. You have to know that." He took a small step forward, his right foot across the threshold of her apartment as his hand came up to brush her elbow.

Olivia wanted to pull away, scoff and tell him he did a great job of not hurting her, but she couldn't. His touch seemed to freeze her to her spot.

Swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat, Barba took another step closer. "I guess I just always thought that if we ever happened, it would be like a cheesy love song. I'd tell you how I felt, you'd feel the same and we'd kiss and that would be it."

"But you... you told me that you didn't want this. That we couldn't do it because it would be too complicated. You barely gave it a second thought... I don't know what you want me to say to you..." She finally lifted her head completely to look him in the face.

Letting out a breath, Barba pulled himself together as best as he could. "I know what I said, but these past two weeks... have been the worst of my life, Liv. I can't sleep... I want to come to the precinct all the time, I wanna come here... but I can't because I wanted to respect your wishes."

"I don't care what you do, as long as it's not here." Her own voice echoed in her head and she winced.

"Rafa... I never should have... I just, got scared. I thought that you would never look at me the same way again, but I was wrong to just assume that. What I said to you... threatening to kick you out of the precinct... I shouldn't have done that, I'm sorry." She mumbled.

"Mama?" Noah's voice broke the ever looming silence that started to blanket them. "Mama, I'm thirsty..." He mumbled, rubbing his eyes as he walked towards her.

Olivia turned to look at her son, a soft smile pulling at her lips. His curly hair was in even more of a disarray than usual, Eddie, his stuffed elephant tucked under his arm. "Alright sweet boy, I'll get you some water." She nodded.

Turning to look at Barba, she stepped aside completely to let him inside. "I won't be long." She spoke softly, picking Noah up and carrying him to the kitchen. 

Pulling his jacket off, Barba hung it up on the coat rack, pulling the sleeves of his shirt up to try and get comfortable. But he still hadn't moved from his spot by the time she came back.

When Olivia returned, she saw Barba shifting his weight between his feet awkwardly. "Rafa, you can sit down." She offered quietly, sitting on the couch and gesturing to the spot next to her.

Slowly, he walked over and sat next to her. "Liv, I know that I said that this... wouldn't work, but when we weren't talking really... outside the case that is, I realized that I need you in my life. Not just as friends, but as..." he trailed off, hoping to find the right words.

"Something out of a cheesy love song?" She offered, tucking her legs underneath her.

Barba rolled his eyes, though he could feel his face start to heat up. "Something like that, I suppose." He nodded.

"Well... I would be inclined to agree, but we are definitely not a love song. Got it?" Olivia countered.

"As long as we're together, we can be whatever you want us to be." He smiled, tentatively reaching out to take her hand.

There would be another conversation or two, at greater length, they were both sure of that, but for now that was all they needed. The assurance that they were there, that they were in this together.

But definitely not a love song.

Chapter Text

baby you look happier, you do. i knew one day you'd fall for someone new. but if he breaks your heart like lovers do, just know that i'll be waiting here for you.

♡♡♡

"Counsellor, you'll find happiness again. I know you will, but you can't beat yourself up." Amanda's voice broke through his thoughts, pulling his gaze from the couple in the corner.

Lifting his glass from the bar, Barba gave the blonde detective a side-eyed glance. "Well Detective... you clearly don't know me as well as you thought, because I am very good at beating myself up."

It was all he'd been doing since the night she walked out of his office, not bothering to hide the tears and every single emotion that each one of them held.

"I can't do this anymore, Rafa... I can't, I'm not... I'm not strong enough."

"That's a lie, Liv and you know that as much as I do. Just be honest with me for once in your life!"

"Right, because I can be honest but you get to pull all your crap and I can't say anything about it. I get it... I think we're done here. Goodnight Counsellor."

That whole scene just kept playing on a loop in his mind. His gaze crept back to Olivia and Tucker in the corner, his arm was around her shoulders and she was holding his hand, leaning into his side. She looked happy, she really did and he was glad for that.

"You know... I think it's time that I head home." Barba cleared his throat, turning back to the rest of the SVU squad. "I will... see you all tomorrow." He mumbled, putting down enough money to cover their tab and walking out of the bar.

♡♡♡

The next few days progressed as normal, court was hell as usual and not having Liv to turn to was the strangest part of the ordeal. They exchanged pleasantries, but it never extended beyond that.

"Barba, great job. Another win for us." Olivia smiled, walking back over to him after receiving hugs from the victim and her family, with assurances of being called if she needed anything during her recovery.

A small smile pulled at his lips as he filed things away in his briefcase. "Seems like it," he nodded. "Every case we win is another step in the right direction; even if it doesn't feel like it."

In that moment, he wasn't really sure if he was just voicing that thought aloud, or reminding himself why he stayed with SVU, why he did what he did for a living.

"So, big plans with Tucker and Noah tonight?" He asked, as nonchalant as he could manage. He could practically feel his heart sinking lower and lower as he waited for an answer.

However, he was surprised by what she offered up. "Just Noah, Ed is working late tonight." She managed a smile. "You can join us if you'd like?"

Stopping in his tracks for a moment, it took his brain twice as long to catch up. Had it been a month ago he would have jumped at the chance, but now he couldn't bring himself to say yes. Or say anything really.

"Barba?" Her use of his last name seemed to get his mind working again.

"Sorry, I have plans with my mother tonight." He felt bad for starting it out as a lie, but maybe, he thought, he should go and pay her a visit.

Her smile faltered a little, only briefly, but was soon back to it's original state. "Sounds fun, tell her I said hi."

Turning on her heel, Olivia walked out of the courtroom, her heart pounding in her chest. She hadn't felt that since her first kiss with Ed, and even then she was sure it was because of the fact that he'd tried to take her badge so much over the years. But before that... she'd only felt that with him.

"Come on Olivia..." She mumbled to herself as she pulled her jacket tighter around her before making her exit from the courthouse. "This is crazy." She huffed.

"Talking to yourself?" Came Ed's voice as she turned to see him.

Smiling, she walked over to him and slipped her arm through his. "I was just thinking about you." She wasn't lying, but she wasn't totally honest either. "I thought you had to work late?"

Shaking his head, the two started down the steps. "I managed to get out of it tonight, I probably won't like the amount of work I'm getting into tomorrow, but it'll be worth it. I wanted to talk to you..."

The words caused her heart to sink, had this good thing, the first good thing since her and Rafael, suddenly run its course?

A single nod as she subconsciously gripped his arm a little tighter, was all she gave in response.

♡♡♡

How she had gone so long without breaking down about what happened, was amazing to her. Every other relationship she'd had... it changed her, effected her in some way. But maybe that should have been her first clue.

"Morning Lieu." Carisi greeted, holding up a box of cannoli towards her.

Gratefully, Olivia took one with a smile. "Your mom send you off with a care package again?" She asked, raising an eyebrow as she took a bite.

"Yeah she thinks that because I'm working so much more now that I don't eat properly; which is fair, but my freezer is officially full." He chuckled.

"Well it's always welcome here." She smiled, walking towards her office.

Amanda, who had been typing away at her laptop, looked up when she watched Olivia sit at her desk, running a hand through her hair.

Getting up, she slowly made her way to Olivia's office, knocking on the door. "Liv? You got a minute?" She asked quietly, raising an eyebrow. 

Straightening up, Olivia nodded, watching as Amanda shut the door and awkwardly shuffled further into the office, taking a seat across from her. "Is everything okay?"

"You tell me... I saw you with Tucker outside of the courthouse yesterday. It was different from the night in the bar." She started gently, trying her best not to cross the professional boundaries, but still wanting to be there as a friend. "You know that night at the bar, Barba's still beating himself up over what happened. I know he's not gonna say anything about it, but that night... Liv, maybe you two should talk... really sit down and talk about what happened."

Olivia opened her mouth to say something, but when nothing came out, she closed it again and leaned forward on her desk. "Tucker is thinking about retirement... brought it up to me last night. He wants a life, a future with me." She let out a breath. "I told him that I can't give him that. This job... what we do here, is so important and I'm not ready to let that go. He... wasn't fond of that idea." She shook her head. "I'm afraid it's over with him."

Amanda's eyes softened as she listened to her. "Look, Liv, Barba's still crazy about you. If it's not working with Tucker, it's not just because he wants to retire... it's not just because of fate, or the stars not being aligned or whatever you want to call it,"

The Lieutenant did laugh at that, but Amanda continued on.

"It's because you still have feelings for Barba, and I know for a fact he still has feelings for you." She looked at Olivia with hesitance, hoping, praying she wasn't going to be read the riot act for overstepping.

Instead, Olivia just smiled, clearly hearing what she needed to hear. "Thank you, Amanda. Truly." She nodded.

Returning her nod, Amanda stood up and walked to the door. "I just want you to be happy, Liv. You deserve it." She gave one shoulder a gentle shrug before heading back to her desk.

♡♡♡

Walking through the hall, Olivia found herself standing in front of his open office door before she could even really consider just what she was doing.

Taking a couple steps inside, she shut the door behind her. It was only then that he looked up from his work, surprise written all over his features. "Liv... is everything alright?" He asked, getting up from his chair.

There was a half nod, before she shook her head. "You're still beating yourself up over what happened... aren't you Rafa?" She didn't need his answer, she knew Amanda wouldn't lie to her but she needed to hear it from him.

The nickname caused his heart to clench in his chest as stopped making his way around the desk to reach her. "You were right... I wanted you to be honest with me, but I couldn't be honest with you... or myself." He shrugged gently. 

"I was angry," understatement. "And I said things that I probably shouldn't have, but I never... I didn't even think about how they would effect you. I'm so sorry, Rafa, I never wanted that." She shook her head.

There was his nickname again and he started moving closer again. "Liv, you don't have anything to be sorry for." He shook his head, placing a hand on her forearm once he was close enough.

"Do you want to come over for dinner tonight? It's spaghetti night." She asked, a hopeful glint in her eyes that he couldn't ignore if he tried.

"I'd love to."

Chapter Text

this ain't for the best, my reputation's never been worse so, you must like me for me. we can't make, any promises now can we babe, but you can make me a drink.

♡♡♡

"I'm you now, Liv." He gives her a smile that only just reaches his eyes.

There's a pause and her lips are parted just so to try and catch her breath, her heart breaking as she tries to plead with him not to say what he's going to say next.

"You opened my heart, and I thank you for it." His voice catches ever so slightly.

She opens her mouth a little more, taking a shaky breath in hopes that her voice doesn't betray her. But it does. "And?" It's broken. She's broken.

"I've got to move on."

A kiss to her forehead and then she was left standing in front of the courthouse, watching him walk away.

She opened her mouth to call out to him, but nothing came out. He just left. Just like Elliot had (although this time she actually got a goodbye, which she supposed she should be grateful for). And she didn't know when or if she would see him again.

He had barely made it across the busy street when she took off after him, figuring she would think of something to say to him on her way.

"Rafa!" She called out, his name already sounding so foreign on her tongue. "You can't just sum up six years with some of the most heart wrenching poetry and walk away like it's nothing!" The tears that normally she would have pushed back, were flowing freely down her cheeks.

He had stopped once her voice reached his ears and he could tell without even turning around she was full on crying now. "Liv," his voice was thick with his own tears that he had only shed once he was turned away from her.

"No! I had to listen to you, now you have to listen to me!" She shook her head as he turned around. "Rafa... when we met, you were smug and arrogant with a big brass ego," she smiled internally as she remembered that particular exchange with Captain Harris. "And I thought, man this guy is gonna be a pain in my ass." She shook her head, stuffing her hands in her pockets.

"And?" He asked, his heart clenching as she looked down at the slush covered pavement.

"And I was right. But after the Manor Hill case... something started to change. You started to change and started to look past the cases and saw the victims. You got involved more and more and yes you were still very much a pain in the ass, but you were a pain in the ass that I didn't mind spending time with. On the clock or off the clock when we were having a drink." She smiled a little.

He let out a strained chuckle and blinked a few times to clear his eyes of the tears.

Taking a small step forward, one of Olivia's hands came out of her pocket and she placed it on his chest, just over his heart. "I love you, Rafael. And you say that I opened your heart, and in some ways that may be true, but... Rafa, you've always had an open heart, it just took the right person to help you see that."

Her voice was quieter now, and she dropped her gaze from his eyes to where her hand rested on his chest. "I get that you have to move on... I won't stop you. I just, wanted you to know how I feel." She started to move her hand when he quickly lifted his and pulled her even closer.

"Liv," he started, closing his eyes for a moment and taking a breath. "Liv, this isn't going to be easy. If we do this. I'm not the same person I was."

Olivia smiled a little, and he reciprocated, the first smile that's reached his eyes in weeks. "I know. You said it yourself. You're me now, Rafa."

Leaning forward, she pressed a gentle kiss to his lips, one he reciprocated without a second thought.

"I love you too." He whispered as they pulled apart ever so slightly. When she smiled again, his hand found its way to her hair, this time, pulling her in for a deeper kiss.

Chapter Text

i gave up three times this week. went through those feelings like i wasn’t worth nothing. i thought i can shake this off. no i can’t be this soft.

♡♡♡

“I'm not yelling at you!” She shot back, turning on her heel to look at him. She was, in fact, yelling at him but she was angry so she couldn't back down now.

Raising a brow, Barba leaned against the counter, grateful that Noah was with Lucy for the night. “Right because people who aren’t yelling, definitely talk at that volume.” He nodded.

“Barba,” she warned and smirked inwardly as he stood straighter. “I don't know how many times I'm going to have to tell you. I'm. Fine.” Olivia huffed, folding her arms across her chest.

“Liv, mi amor,” he was hoping the Spanish term of endearment would assuage some of her anger. “I know you're not fine, your squad knows you're not fine, you know you're not fine. It's okay to not be fine; it doesn't mean you're weak, it means that you're human.” He reminded.

Letting out a sigh, she knew he was right. Setbacks happen, it was part of the healing process. “I just keep thinking about what would have happened if he managed to get his footing after I hit him.” Her hands started to shake a little as she thought about it.

“But you don't have to think about that. You're here and he's not. You made it out of that house alive, and you did the best you could to save the family.” She had saved the kids, and the mom had been out of the house. If she remembered correctly, the father was alright too.

“I listened to him rape that poor girl. She was screaming and I couldn't do anything.” Her voice was quieter now and Barba quickly crossed the small space between them to pull Olivia to him.

“I know, and I can't imagine how hard that must have been for you.” He shook his head, pressing a gentle kiss to the side of her head.

When she wasn't wearing shoes, Barba had about two inches on her and he often used it to his advantage, especially when he got home after her. Placing one of his hands on the back of her head, he gently stroked her hair, letting out a breath.

Olivia wrapped her arms around his waist, her forehead resting against his shoulder as she tried to level out her own breathing.

“I thought that I was gonna lose you. I didn’t know… when I got to the precinct, and asked where you were. They thought you were at the seminar, I knew you weren’t I should have known something was off long before Carisi talked to Lucy…” Barba shook his head, feeling the panic setting in.

Shaking her head, she turned her head to look at him. “You had no way of knowing. I’m sorry I texted Lucy and not you, but I figured if you had court this afternoon, you’d be busy.” She mumbled.

Letting out a breath, Barba kissed her forehead then her nose and finally placed a soft kiss on her lips, being mindful of her bruises and cuts. “You know, since you have to take the mandatory time off anyways… how about I put in for some time off of my own?” He suggested.

Taking a small step back, Olivia looked up at him with wide eyes. Reaching a hand out, she pressed it against his forehead, narrowing her eyes to inspect him.

“What are you doing?” He asked, looking up at her hand on his forehead.

“Checking to see if you have a fever. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you offer to take time off.” She laughed a little, her hand slipping from his forehead to the back of his neck. “I think that would be wonderful. Noah’s going to be very happy.” She smiled.

“And you?” He asked, his hands resting gently on her hips. “Are you going to be very happy about it?”

Olivia nodded and wrapped both of her arms around his neck. “I am very happy about it.” She smiled, leaning up ever so slightly to kiss his lips.

“Thank you. For tonight.” She whispered.

Siempre, mi amor.” He mumbled.

Chapter Text

you should probably stay, probably stay a couple more days. come on let me change your ticket home. / don’t go, it’s not the same when you’re gone, and it’s not good to be all alone. so, you should probably stay here with me a couple more days, come on let me change your ticket home.

♡♡♡ 

Since Barba’s departure over two months ago, Olivia had thrown herself back into her work. She didn’t feel any less guilty about getting him involved but working and being with Noah helped center her thoughts. 

With Noah at a sleepover birthday party for the weekend, she had planned to catch up on paperwork. “’Liv, are you headin’ home?” Amanda asked, poking her head into the Lieutenant’s office.

Looking up from her laptop, Olivia quickly glanced at the time before shaking her head. “If I don’t have this done by Monday, Dodds will probably want my head.” She laughed quietly. 

Amanda’s blue eyes softened a little as she regarded her boss, more importantly, her friend. Taking a few steps into the office, Amanda leaned against the back of one of the chairs. “Are you sure you’re alright? I know that this hasn’t been easy since Barba left, but if you wanna talk, we’re all here for you.”

Olivia’s smile managed to reach her eyes this time. “I know that I haven’t been the most fun person to work for, or the easiest, since he left… but I’m… I’m okay. If I get this paperwork done by Monday, I may head to the courthouse for closing arguments, Mikayla and her mother want me to be there.”

“I’m pretty sure we’re gonna win this one. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure at first, but Stone seems to know what he’s doin’.” Amanda nodded.

Olivia returned the nod, and while she wasn’t sure where she stood on Stone, she had accepted that he would be their unit’s new prosecutor. She had to at least try to be cordial with him. 

“Go home and see Jesse, Amanda. Enjoy your weekend, I’m sure that she’s looking forward to seeing you.” Olivia advised with another smile.

“If you’re sure that you’re okay,” Amanda began but got a look from Olivia, so she held up her hands in surrender. “Alright, but if you need anything, my phone is on. Have a good weekend ‘Liv." 

As she watched the blonde leave the squad room, Olivia leaned back in her chair. Closing her eyes, she let out a long breath, her hands running up her face and into her hair.

When her phone started buzzing, she groaned and dropped her hands. It wasn’t a number she immediately recognized so she was hesitant to answer it. Figuring it would do no harm, she slid her finger along the screen, lifting her phone to her ear. “Lieutenant Benson.”

“Hey ‘Liv…” Was the only greeting she needed to know who had called her.

“Rafa… hi. Um, how are you? Where are you, actually? I don’t recognize the number.” She sat up a little straighter, trying to hide the overwhelming relief of hearing his voice.

Rafael chuckled, and she could picture him shaking his head at her. “I’m in Barcelona, it was the first place that came to my mind to go after everything happened. I’ve been here for about a month.” 

That seemed to sting more than was probably called for. She wanted to give him space, but she had tried to contact him for the first little while. Checking to see if he needed anything or how he was doing, but she had only gotten radio silence in return. 

“I know I should have texted you back or returned your calls, but I was ashamed, ‘Liv. Twenty-one years of law down the drain because of what I did. Six of those years, working with the most dedicated group of detectives I’ve ever met. I didn’t know what to say to you. I’m sorry didn’t seem like enough and everything else that I wanted to say seemed too important to say over a text or a phone call.” He tried to explain further.

“Everything else you wanted to say?” Her heard started to beat a little faster. “Everything else like what, Rafa?”

There was a long pause, their breathing the only thing that either of them could heard. “Come see me.”

“I’m sorry?” Olivia was almost positive she hadn’t heard him right.

“Come to Barcelona. Come see me and I’ll tell you in person. I’ll tell you everything that I wanted to say back in February.” His words left him like he was letting out his last breath.

Olivia wanted to. More than anything she wanted to jump on the next flight and go and see him. Tell him what she wanted to say in front of the courthouse. “I have a kid, Rafael.” There’s a small pang in her chest, she’s said that line to him before. “And a job, and I can’t just leave.”

“’Liv, please.” He had never been one to beg, but he would if it got her on a plane. “I would come back, but I’m not ready. I’ll pay for your ticket.” He offered.

As she thought about it, or at least pretended to think about it, she was already heading towards her office door, grabbing her blazer off the hook by the door. “If I can get Amanda to agree to watch Noah, I’ll come and see you. Let me call her and get back to you.” She countered. 

“Alright, I’ll be waiting. Bye ‘Liv.” He smiled before hanging up the phone.

♡♡♡

That was how she found herself lying half naked under the cotton sheet of the bed in the place he was renting.

As soon as she had ended the call with him, she called Amanda who told her to go for it, that they could handle everything until she got back. And, to Olivia’s greatest relief, she agreed to watch Noah, stating that Carisi would be pitching in to help her.

Letting out a sigh as she stirred from her sleep, Olivia sat up, wiping the sleep from her eyes. It was the day that she was returning to New York, knowing that he wasn’t ready, but she had to get back to her life.

They had spent the first couple days talking, catching up, feeling good for the first time in a long time for them. He had told her that he loved her. Okay, so he had kind of told her that with his speech in front of the courthouse, but he had said the actual words this time around. She had returned the sentiment, stating that she knew there was a reason that she put up with him for as long as she had.

They talked about the job offers that he’d gotten, teaching law at Hudson or NYU. Of course, he had chosen NYU, he wouldn’t dare give Hudson a second thought, and was due to start in the fall. “You look good, Rafa…” She had told him, having never seen him so relaxed in the entire time she had known him.

“So do you, ‘Liv. I mean that. And I’m sorry for leaving the way I did. I just wasn’t sure how to cope with… everything.” He admitted.

At the stirring next to him, Rafael opened one eye slowly. “Do you really have to leave today?” He asked.

Olivia nodded. “I want to stay more than anything, but I can’t.” She admitted, her hand trailing lightly down his chest.

“You should stay… just for a couple more days. We haven’t been out to explore what this city has to offer. Who knows when you’ll come back.” He was trying a few different tactics at once, and they were all working against her apparently weak resolve.

“Rafa,” she began, her hand falling to his lap as he sat up, one of his arms winding around her waist and pulling him closer.

Rafael leaned forward, pressing a kiss to her jaw. “I know, I just… wish that you could stay a little longer.” He sighed.

As his forehead came to rest against the side of her head they sat there for a minute, enjoying the silence and the calm. “I’ll be home soon.” He whispered.

“I know you will.” She smiled a little before getting up and picking up her clothes from where they had been discarded the night before.

As he watched her pack and redress, there was a nagging voice in the back of his head. “What are you doing? Why aren’t you going home with her? You love her, she loves you, and she wants you two to work out. You’re being stubborn.”

“Let me give you a ride to the airport.” He got up and grabbed his own clothes and quickly redressed as she finished packing up her suitcase.

“That would be nice. Thank you.” She smiled.

 ♡♡♡

It had been only a couple days since she’d gotten back from Barcelona, and while she was supposed to be back at work, jet lag had other plans for her. “I’ll see you in the morning sweet boy, I love you.” She smiled, kissing Noah’s forehead.

“I love you too mumma, I’m glad you’re home.” He grinned sleepily, his eyes falling shut as sleep overcame him.

Olivia knew it would be another few hours before she even felt tired enough to consider sleeping, so she sat down on the couch and pulled out her laptop. She figured that if she couldn’t sleep she could at least catch up on emails. That would tire her out.

A knock at the door drew her attention from Dodds’ email. The last time she had a knock on her door that late it was Sheila Porter.

Slowly making her way to the door, Olivia looked out the peephole and smiled. Unlocking the door, she pulled it open and took in the sight of him in front of her.

“I wasn’t expecting you home so early.” She breathed, her smile widening.

Shrugging a little, he leaned in, kissing her gently. “I guess there was more waiting for me back home than I had originally thought, so I changed my ticket.” He smiled. 

Wrapping her arms around his neck, Olivia returned his kiss. “I’m glad that you’re home.”

“Me too.”

Chapter Text

i found myself dreaming, in silver and gold. like a scene from a movie, that every broken heart knows. we were walking on moonlight when you pulled me close. split second and you disappeared and then i was all alone. i woke up in tears, with you by my side, a breath of relief, and i realized, no, we’re not promised tomorrow.

♡♡♡

How Maya had convinced her to take up the board of director’s on attending the Governor’s Ball, Maddie would never know. “Maya, I cannot believe I let you talk me into this.” She groaned as she stepped into the ballroom.

“Come on Maddie! With Daniel overseas, someone needs to be here to represent your family! Besides, you’re better at these things than he is anyways.” Maya pointed out, taking in the people around them.

Maddie looked over at Maya curiously. “Right so this totally isn’t an excuse to set me up on a date with someone?” She asked.

“Madeline Campbell, I would never.” Maya defended a mock look of horror on her face.

“Maya Penley, yes you would.” Maddie returned with a laugh. “I’m gonna go get us some drinks.” She rolled her eyes and headed towards the bar.

♡♡♡

When she got to the bar, she saw a blonde woman, probably early thirties, sipping a beer. “You look as thrilled as I am to be here.” Maddie smiled, taking a seat next to her.

“I work for Manhattan Special Victims Unit, our Lieutenant thought it would look good for all of us to come to one of these things.” The woman smirked. “I’m Amanda, by the way. Amanda Rollins.”

Maddie smiled and shook her hand. “Maddie Campbell. It’s nice to meet you.” 

“As in the Maddie Campbell? Heiress to Campbell Worldwide Media? Wow, people at these events really must like you.” She laughed a little.

Maddie joined in the laughter and shook her head. “Probably, but I absolutely dread these events. I’m only here because my brother is overseas dealing with the London branch.” Maddie turned her gaze when she saw the bartender had walked over to her. 

“What can I get for you?” She asked with a sweet smile.

“I’ll have a Negroni for me and an Old Fashioned for my friend.” Maddie smiled, turning to glance over her shoulder at Maya who was finally making her way over.

“Well, I see you effectively ditched me this evening Maddie.” She teased as she took her proffered drink from her friend.

Maddie rolled her eyes. “Yeah, totally. I’m having way more fun over here. Besides, isn’t Ty coming?” She asked.

As if on cue, Tyler walked up to them. “Ty is right here. And I will be taking Maya off your hands, Mads.” He chuckled and gently lead Maya away.

“Sorry about that.” Maddie apologized, turning back to Amanda.

“No need to apologize, your friends seem to care about you quite a bit.” Amanda smiled. “So, since you’re dreading this function as much as I am, shall we wallow in dread together?” She asked, looking over at Maddie.

Maddie smiled softly, lifting her glass. “I think that sounds like a great idea.” She nodded.

Clinking her beer bottle against Maddie’s glass, the two women got up and headed towards the tables.

“So you said your whole team was here? Where’s everyone else?” Maddie asked as they made their way to the tables.

Amanda cast her own quick glance around the room. “Over there is my Lieutenant, Olivia Benson, talking to our ADA, Rafael Barba.”

“Oh, I’ve heard about him. Doesn’t he have the highest closure rate of all the boroughs?” Maddie looked between him and Amanda as she spoke.

Amanda nodded with a smirk. “But don’t tell him that, he already has a huge ego.” Taking another quick look, she gestured to a rather tall, lanky man. “That is Dominick Carisi, but everyone calls him Sonny.” She smirked.

“And Fin Tutuola has been given a free pass because his son and his husband just had a baby.” Amanda smiled.

Smiling softly, Maddie stopped by her table where Tyler and Maya were already sitting. “It appears this is the part of the evening where we must part.” Maddie laughed.

Pulling out her phone Amanda opened up her contacts app and held it out towards Maddie. “Here, since we’re not sitting together, doesn’t mean we have to be miserable.” 

Adding her number into Amanda’s phone, she sent herself a text message and smiled. “I look forward to complaining about dinner with you.”

With that, they parted ways for dinner.

♡♡♡

After dinner was over, and the two had exchanged many texts about the various speeches that had taken place, the attendees were invited to the dancefloor.

Maddie watched as Maya and Tyler made their way over, smiling at the two of them.

As Olivia and Barba stood up, Olivia placed a hand on Amanda’s shoulder. “Why don’t you go ask her to dance, Amanda?” She asked as they walked by.

“Hmm,” Amanda hummed, watching Maddie type away, a crease forming between her brows.

Getting up, the blonde woman walked over to Maddie, taking a seat next to her. “And who is suffering your wrath at the moment?” She asked with a laugh, hoping to lighten the younger woman’s expression.

Sending the email, Maddie slid her phone into her purse and laughed softly. “It’s a long story… one you don’t want to hear. Trust me.”

“Well, since you’re free, can I have this dance?” Amanda asked, rising to her feet and holding her hand out to Maddie.

Nodding, Maddie took Amanda’s hand and followed her to the dancefloor.

Settling her hands at the shorter woman’s hips, Amanda could feel her heartbeat picking up as they swayed to the music.

“Y’know I think this is the first time I’ve been to a Governor’s Ball and didn’t end up leaving as soon as I made my rounds.” Maddie laughed.

Amanda smirked, glancing over behind Maddie to Olivia and Barba who were about as close to one another as they could get. Olivia made brief eye contact with Amanda and gave her a thumbs up.

Rolling her eyes, Amanda turned her focus back to Maddie. “Well, I’m glad you stuck around, Maddie.” She breathed, her Georgian accent getting thicker as she dropped her voice.

Maddie smiled and bit her lip gently. “I am too, Amanda.” 

With nothing more needing to be said between them, Amanda dipped her head and pressed a gentle kiss to Maddie’s lips.

The action caught Maddie off guard for a moment before she returned the kiss, her arms tightening ever so slightly around Amanda’s neck.

When the need for air became too great, Maddie pulled away a little.

“I’m sorry,” Amanda apologized, her gaze falling to the floor.

“Hey… you don’t have to apologize. That was… amazing.” Maddie smiled, her hand resting on Amanda’s cheek.

A smile pulled at Amanda’s lips. “Could I maybe… take you to dinner tomorrow night?” She asked sheepishly.

Maddie’s smile widened as she nodded quickly. “That sounds wonderful.”

Chapter Text

they say my system is overloaded. i’m too much in my head, did you notice? my body’s here on earth but i’m floating. disconnected, so sometimes, i feel frozen, and alone.

♡♡♡

Barba had been off; lately, he was sure that he was hiding it well. But Olivia had always seen through his thinly veiled attempts at keeping himself together.

After the Jason Karr case, after his blood in the streets speech; Olivia found him in his office, hunched over and cradling a glass of scotch. “Rafa?”

Her voice broke through this silence, sounding like a roar in the near-empty building. “That was… quite the image that you painted.” She began, walking over to him.

Taking the glass from his hands, she set it on the table, crouching down in front of him. “You wanna tell me what brought it on?”

Barba thought about it for a moment. He could lie, tell her that he was fine and that it was just the anger he felt towards Karr. But every time he tried to formulate the lie, it died on his lips. “What good are we doing? We take these cases to trial, we win some, which is great, but we lose so many. What is that teaching people? No matter if we win all of the cases that we take to trial, there are always going to be bad people. What’s the point, anymore?”

Now, Olivia would be lying if she said that she hadn’t been there before, but she had never seen Barba like this. Before she could even answer, he spoke again. “I’m done.”

“Done?” She asked quietly, confusion filling her eyes as she took a seat next to him on the couch.

“With the DA’s office. I thought it would make me happy, and it did, for a long time, but I can’t do this anymore.” He shook his head.

Olivia could hardly form a coherent thought. “Okay, um… what will you… what will you do?” She asked quietly, tears filling her eyes as she looked at her hands that were folded in her lap.

It was then that Barba pulled his attention from whatever he’d been staring at, to look at Olivia. “I’m still gonna be around, Liv. I’m not going anywhere.” He assured her. “We can still have lunch and dinners, and you can tell me all about how Eddie ate all the ice cream or how my replacement is driving you up the wall. I'm not leaving you.” He reasoned, trying to lighten the tone of the room.

Olivia nodded, painting a smile across her lips as she turned her glassy brown eyes to his. “Yeah, it’ll just be difficult, not seeing you here after all these years.” She nodded.

Barba was about to ask if she was okay when she stood up. “I should head home, Lucy’s expecting me, and it’s spaghetti night.” She smiled a little as she made for the door.

Once again, Barba was sitting alone in his office.

♡♡♡

In the elevator and the whole ride home, Olivia had fought off her tears. He was leaving. And she had just left him in his office.

When she arrived home, later than she would have liked after taking the longest way possible, she allowed herself a moment at the door to wipe her tears before unlocking the door. Entering the apartment, she was overwhelmed by the smell of spaghetti sauce.

Setting her bag down and hanging up her coat, she made her way into the apartment expecting to see Lucy. The sight that greeted her, however, was the man she’d left in his office half an hour earlier. “Rafa?” She asked quietly, raising a brow.

“Noah, look who’s here.” He smiled, lifting the boy off the counter.

“Mama!” Noah took off in a sprint towards his mother, wrapping his arms around her midsection.

Laughing, Olivia returned the hug. "Hello, sweet boy. Were you good for Lucy and Uncle Rafa?" She asked, looking over him towards the man in her kitchen.

Noah nodded emphatically, looking over towards Rafael. "Uncle Rafa said that he was gonna make dinner tonight, so you didn't have to! Mama, can he stay for dinner?"

"Well, I think it would be rude if he made dinner and we didn't ask him to stay." She smiled. "How about you go play in your room, and we'll call you when dinner's ready, okay?"

Making her way into the kitchen, Olivia leaned against the counter. "So, buttering up my son and my nanny to continue our... conversation from earlier?" She asked.

Barba chuckled, pulling three plates out of the cupboard. "Depends."

Olivia raised a brow. "On?"

"If it's working." He drew a breath. "Look, Liv. Me leaving the DA's office, when I told you that I'm not leaving you, I meant that. I couldn't imagine living my day to day life without you. And if you'll have me, I'd like to start having more than just dinners." He turned to face her as he spoke, watching her face to judge her reaction.

Olivia smiled softly. "Is this your roundabout way of asking me out?"

Barba pursed his lips. "If you'd like to put a label on it then yes. There would no longer be a conflict of interest." And we could finally act on the feelings that we've kept tempered just below the surface all these years. He thought to himself.

Reaching out and grabbing his tie, Olivia pulled him closer to her. With their lips mere inches from each other, her smile widened a little. "As long as you do the dishes."

Letting out a chuckle, he brushed his lips ever so slightly against hers. "Deal."

Chapter Text

one after another, they've always come and gone. so what if i'm a monster that's been here all along? they're dropping like flies whenever i’m around. so used to goodbyes, there's comfort in the sound. maybe i’m the monster that's been here all along.

♡♡♡

Olivia had always had a turbulent relationship when it came to men. Ever since she was a teenager, who was engaged to one of her mother’s students. And it wasn’t lost on her that every time she did have a chance at happiness, she pushed it away. 

And then there was Rafael Barba.

He was the one who had stuck by her through everything, all of the pain, all of the anguish, and even the rare moments of happiness that had intertwined themselves in the deepest recesses of her mind. It was always him, and now he was leaving.

Walking out of his office, Olivia made her way to the elevator, her hands shaking as she pushed the button. Once inside, she leaned against the wall, hitting the button with much more force than necessary — anything to get her away from his office.

After practically running to her car, Olivia sat in the driver’s seat, unmoving as she let the weight of his words sink in. He was leaving. Going God knows where. And honestly, she couldn’t blame him. Part of her had wanted to retire after Mike’s death, but she knew that there were still people that needed her. People that needed their team.

After sitting for about ten minutes, Olivia started to drive home, purposely taking the longest route possible as her tears finally broke free and slipped down her cheeks.

What was going to happen now? Would she have the courage to finally admit to him, and herself, how she truly felt?

♡♡♡

As Olivia left his office, Barba watched her fleeting figure, leaning back on his couch as he further loosened his tie. 

He knew he had made the right decision, leaving the DA’s office, but he genuinely hadn’t given any thought to how Olivia would react. In all honesty, he probably had gotten off much easier than he should have.

After wallowing in his misery for long enough, he got up and finished the rest of his scotch. Setting the glass aside, he grabbed his briefcase and his coat. Leaving before it was dark out wasn’t exactly a common occurrence and he could swear that he was getting stranger looks from everyone he passed.

Once outside, he pulled out his phone and ordered an Uber, making a split second decision to have it take him to Olivia’s apartment.

Walking into the building, he could swear it was like any other time they worked together on a case. Knowing that tonight was spaghetti night, and knowing that she always saved him a plate, perhaps, he was hoping, that they could talk.

Once on her floor, he moved through the hallway, bracing himself as he knocked on her door.

To his surprise, Lucy opened the door. “Mr. Barba, Liv’s not home yet, she told me that she had to make a couple of stops on the way home.” The young woman explained, stepping aside to let him in.

As he made his way in, he set his briefcase down and hung up his coat. “That’s alright, my being here is a… surprise… so to speak.” Or at least it will be. He thought to himself. Glancing at his watch, he noted the time. “Lucy, why don’t you take off for the night? I can handle watching Noah.” A brief pause. “Where is Noah?”

“Playing with his legos in his room. He’s finished his homework and had a snack. Are you sure you’ll be alright if I leave?” Lucy asked, not making any moves to grab her things just in case.

Barba chuckled and nodded. “I’m sure, go enjoy your evening.”

As Lucy headed out of the apartment, Barba toed off his shoes and padded down the hallway to Noah’s room. Knocking twice on the doorframe, he couldn’t help but laugh at Noah’s reaction. 

“Uncle Raffa!!” He shouted, jumping up and running full force towards the older man, hugging him tightly.

“Hola amigo! How are you?” Barba asked with a laugh.

“I’m good! How come you’re here, and mama’s not?” Noah asked, looking up at Barba.

Barba crouched down in front of him with a softer smile. “Because I’m surprising your mamí. We’re going to make her dinner, do you want to help?” 

Noah nodded quickly. “Yeah! It’s spaghetti night!” He beamed.

As the two of them started to make dinner, Noah more chatting about anything and everything under the sun than helping, Barba couldn’t help but get a little nervous as time went on. 

Where could she be? Was she maybe looking for him? Okay, that one was doubtful, but he could hope.

“Uncle Raffa!” Noah’s voice broke through Barba’s haze. “The water’s going everywhere!” He exclaimed, pointing to the pot that was boiling the pasta.

Quickly turning the heat down and stirring the water until it settled, Barba gave his head a slight shake. When he heard the keys in the lock, he did his best to act as nonchalant as possible as he listened to Olivia enter the apartment.

“Here goes nothing…” He mumbled under his breath. Now, all he could do is just hope things worked out.

Chapter Text

the human soul is a treacherous place, beneath the mask we wear a dark and twisted labyrinth laid. secrets locked and closets closed never surface while we keep composed, come out of hiding. / there’s a sound, it’s haunting my dreams. like children laughing in the distance and i don’t know what it means. am i afraid to be alone, that nobody will ever know, this death i’m dying?

♡♡♡

He didn’t take her as one for dancing, but here he was, standing just out of view as Olivia dances around the living room, picking up a few of Noah’s scattered toys as she goes.

The young boy was with Lucy visiting her mom, which Olivia was ever grateful for, in the wake of the recent events. As much as she loves her son, she had the chance to sleep a little longer than usual which was nice. And she was curled into his side, which was even better.

Some pop song that he didn’t recognize, off a Spotify playlist, played through her apartment, completely distracting Olivia (if only momentarily) from the thoughts plaguing her mind.

It isn’t until she moves to just the right spot, Noah’s toy box, that she sees him and completely halts her movements. “Rafa… I didn’t uh… see you there.” Her cheeks turn a dark red as she turns the volume down.

His smirk was practically carved into his face as she walked over to him. “I figured as much. You look very relaxed mi amor.” He smiled, leaning against the breakfast bar as she stepped closer to him.

Wrapping his arms loosely around her waist, he locked his fingers behind her back, tipping his head to the side. “Are you feeling any better?”

The night prior had been full of nightmares. After everything with Gary Munson, losing Mike, it was too much a lot of the time. For both of them.

Neither adult had gotten much sleep, both still shaken up about what had happened. And for Barba, he was still worried about the death threats, especially after he and Olivia had disclosed their relationship to 1PP and the DA.

If they were honest, neither the DA or the Chief of D’s seemed too surprised by the fact that they were disclosing their relationship. Even Chief Dodds had pulled her aside after their meeting and told her that she looked happy and that it was nice to see.

It warmed her heart, she wouldn’t deny that, but as quickly as that happened, the world seemed to flip entirely on its head. The case wasn’t anything out of the ordinary until it turned into a hostage situation, and then like a blur Dodds was shot, recovered enough and later died from further complications.

“I don’t know… it all still seems so surreal. When I went into work today to pick up some files… I expected to see him sitting in his desk, greeting me like he did every time I walked in.” Olivia shrugged, leaning her head against Barba’s chest. “And for just a second, I swear I thought I saw him there…”

He could hear her voice cracking as he brought his hand up to rest on the back of her head. “I can’t imagine how hard that must have been cariña. I’m so sorry.” He whispered.

Of course, he knew that there were going to be things that she experienced that he wouldn’t. He hadn’t gotten close enough to the fallen Sergeant, but he could only imagine how that would have felt.

♡♡♡

Once night fell over the city, they knew that sleep would elude them once again that night. “I don’t want to go to bed yet…” Olivia mumbled, watching as the end credits rolled on yet another movie. “I feel like… if I go to sleep, I’m going to relive that day and I can’t—“ She shook her head, squeezing her eyes shut to push the tears back.

Barba, who’d been in and out of a semi-conscious state was now fully awake. “We don’t have to go to bed yet. Come on.” He gently tapped her arms.

Standing up, Barba grabbed her phone which was hooked up to the speaker system and chose a soft piano playlist and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Dance with me.” He encouraged gently.

Olivia smiled and let out a small laugh. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she stepped as close to him as possible. “You know, just because I don’t want to sleep, doesn’t mean you don’t have to. I know you were falling asleep through the last movie.” She pointed out.

“On the contrary, that movie was awful and used every cliché it could fit into one film.” He countered.

As they stood there, wrapped up in each other’s arms and swaying gently to the music, he could feel a sense of calm washing over him. “I love you, Olivia.” He whispered, tilting his head to the side to try and catch her gaze.

Lifting her head from his chest, a small smile pulled at Olivia’s lips. It was the first time either had ever said that they hadn’t talked much about their rapidly evolving relationship, but they could both tell that it was the right time. “I love you too, Rafael.” She returned the sentiment.

The two were more than happy to dance the night away, so long as they were together.

Chapter Text

and you say that i’m the devil you know and i don’t disagree, no i don’t see the harm. they say, “you crazy just leave him, he’ll suffocate you” but i wanna be in your arms. they say, “no don’t pick up the phone, let them think there’s nobody home” but i’m under your spell, ‘cause when you call my heart starts to roll, i always want more. it’s my heaven, my hell.

♡♡♡

“Liv,” Amanda began, looking at her boss and friend, as she sat on the couch across from her. “What’s going on?”

Maddie walked over to the two of them, sitting next to Amanda. “Is this about Barba?” The younger asked quietly.

Olivia looked at the couple and nodded slowly. “These past few months, he’s been staying over more and more, and Noah’s taken to him. Then after the Karr case…” She sighed. “He decided to retire, but he didn’t mention that he was just going to take off.”

Maddie shared a brief look with Amanda. “He called me… earlier. I was in a meeting, so he left a voicemail.” Maddie explained, pulling her phone out.

Pulling up the voicemail, she put her phone on speaker, setting it on the coffee table.

“Hey, Mads… I know that I’m the last person you, or anyone needs to worry about, but I can’t bring myself to call Liv. Dios, I tried so hard to call her, but it seemed easier this way. I know that you probably won’t think so and neither will Liv, but I am not the same person that you all knew or the same person that she fell in love with. I know that I don’t deserve her, or Noah, they’ve been so good to me, they are more than I thought I would get in this world. I love them more than anything, but I have to do this. If you see her, please tell her that it was never her fault, that I’ll understand if she never wants to see me again, but I couldn’t be in New York right now. Stone will do fine; he’ll learn from her the same way I did. I’m glad that Jason Karr has finally paid for what he did to those women, but I… I just think that the justice system is so flawed and I can’t take it anymore. It’s a cowardly thing to do, take off on the woman and child you love more than life itself, but I’m not good for them right now. Liv, if you’re listening, I love you so much. You are my world, and I promise that someday if you’ll let me, I’ll make it up to you. Cuídalos por mi, hermanita. ¿Por favor? Bye Mads…” 

Hanging up, Maddie looked up at Olivia who had tears streaming down her cheeks. “Liv?” Maddie asked quietly, moving towards the older woman. “Talk to us… please?”

Leaning into the younger woman, Olivia let out a shaky breath. “I want to hate him so much… I do. But I understand why he left. Maybe it’s for the best…”

Maddie wrapped her arms around Olivia’s shoulders, letting out a sigh. “I’m gonna kick his ass. If I find out where he is I’m gonna kick his ass so hard.” She mumbled, making Olivia laugh a little.

“Do you think this is a sign, Liv?” Amanda asked, leaning forward.

“‘Manda…” Maddie began, looking st her with a “what the hell are you doing?” look.

Olivia lifted her head. “What do you mean?”

“Liv, you deserve to be happy, and Barba just took off without calling you. He called Maddie. That’s not fair to you or Noah.” She pointed out.

Okay, so maybe she had a point. No. No. Rafael was the one person who had stuck by her, who wanted everything she had to offer. “While that may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m in love with him, Amanda. I don’t understand why he just up and left without so much as a note, but I’ve been there. Stay in this job long enough; it gets to you. I love him, Noah loves him, and no matter where he is, he’s going to come home, even if I have to drag him back to Manhattan.” Olivia stated firmly.

Maddie and Amanda both smiled. “Noah’s probably sound asleep, why don’t you just stay here? Or you can go home, and we can watch Noah for the night.” Maddie suggested.

“I need to head back to the office… do you mind taking him for the night?” Olivia asked.

“Of course not, just… call if you need anything okay?” Amanda made her promise as she walked Olivia out of the apartment.

“I promise.” She nodded.

Sitting back on the couch, Amanda pulled Maddie’s legs into her lap. “Promise me you won’t run off on me?” She asked as she looked at Maddie.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Maddie smiled softly, typing away on her phone.

“What are you doing?” Amanda craned her neck to try and get a better look at what her girlfriend was typing.

Maddie just hummed and smiled a little. “Let’s call it… divine intervention.”

♡♡♡

Sitting in her office, Olivia went over some paperwork, not paying any mind to the officers who were coming and going.

It wasn’t until she heard a knock that she even bothered to look up from her work. “Rafa?” She asked, her eyes wide in surprise.

Barba nodded as he stepped into her office, closing the door.

“I was on my way to my mom’s when Maddie sent me a text. I am not going to say I’m here under duress, but there was a threat of calling my mom and telling her what I did.” Barba shrugged.

Olivia nodded. “So you’re not here to say that you messed up? Or that you’re sorry for not calling?”

“You know when we first started working together what was it four years ago?”

“Five,” Olivia interjected.

“The world was an old movie, it was all black and white, it was High Noon, and I was Gary Cooper. I was absolutely sure, absolutely, who were the good guys, who were the bad guys. And then you, you started to weasel your way into my world. The black and white became shades of grey.” He paused. “Don’t say it.” He chuckled a little. “Before I knew it, there were blues, and greens, and yellows, and reds. I’m you now, Liv. You opened my heart, and I thank you for it.” He nodded, eyes filling with tears.

As Olivia’s own eyes filled with tears, she hadn’t noticed the distance between them had closed. “And?” She whispered, her voice breaking.

“And I love you, more than anything. Leaving the DA’s office, was never about leaving you, and I’m sorry I didn’t call you, or tell you what I had planned. I never wanted to hurt…” He was cut off by Olivia’s lips on his.

“Don’t say goodbye.” She breathed as she pulled back ever so slightly. “Please don’t.”

Wrapping his arms around her waist, he held her close enough to feel her heartbeat. “I won’t. I promise.”

Chapter Text

that’s my shape, i made the shadow. that’s my name, don’t wear it out though. feeling myself can’t be illegal, illegal. so sue me, for looking so pretty tonight, wearing your favourite colour under the lights. for moving on doing everything right.

♡♡♡

Why Olivia had even tried another relationship with someone she worked with was beyond her. It hadn’t worked in the past and she wasn’t sure why she thought it would work now.

But it was Rafael Barba. The man she had spent the better part of four years with, who had been there in the best and worst times of her life. 

Picking up her phone, Olivia called Amanda’s cell phone. Maybe she should take her and Maddie up on the offer for girls night.

“Hey, Liv, what’s up?” Amanda asked as she put her phone on speaker, setting it on the bed as she pulled her heels on.

“Are you and Maddie still going out tonight?” She asked, biting her lip as she stared down at the dress on her bed.

Maddie glanced over and raised a brow before answering. “Yeah, we’re just about to head out. Liv, is everything okay?”

Olivia smiled. “Everything is great; I was just wondering if my invitation was still open?” Why was she so shy about it?

Maddie squealed, practically jumping up and down to Amanda’s bewilderment given she was in six inch heels. “Yes! Oh my God! I’ll have an Uber pick you up!” Maddie grinned.

Olivia moved the phone from her ear a bit, laughing. “Okay, I’ll see you soon then.”

♡♡♡

Stepping out of the Uber, Olivia saw Maddie and Amanda waiting for her.

Letting out a low whistle, Maddie grinned. “Damn Lieutenant, you clean up nicely.”

Olivia rolled her eyes a little, but the blush on her cheeks gave her away. “I guess I just needed a reason to get out of the apartment tonight. Thank God for Lucy’s mom treating Noah like her grandchild.”

Maddie shook her head. “Nope, cutting that off right here. We are not talking about work, or our kids. Tonight, we drink and dance and pretend like we’re the only three people in the world. Besides, Matt and Justin have completely redone this place, which is why we’re here.” She grinned, looking at the club behind them.

“Do you know everyone in Manhattan?” Amanda asked, taking Maddie’s hand.

Maddie lulled her head from side to side. “Not everyone. But like Kyle, Ty and Bex, we met in University. Matt and Justin went to Business School with me and… this is all a very boring story. Long story short, I don’t know everyone, but I know the right people.” She grinned, taking Olivia’s arm as they walked up to the bouncer. “Hey, Mikey!” She beamed up at the six feet in every direction bouncer who softened when he saw her.

“My favourite Creole Princess!” He chuckled, unclipping the velvet rope. “Head on in Peanut, Matty and Justin are waiting for you ladies.” He smiled.

“Thanks, Mikey!” Maddie smiled as the three entered the club. “Holy…”

“Shit…” 

She wasn’t sure who had said it, but they were all taken aback by the club. It wasn’t your standard club by any means. Matt and Justin had gone out of their way to try and make it at least somewhat respectable. “Damn the boys did a good job.” Maddie laughed, glancing around the room. “Oh! There they are! Come on I’ll introduce you!” She grinned.

“Maddie!” Matt exclaimed over the loud music. “It’s so good to see you!” He smiled as she gave him a hug, before moving on to Justin.

Maddie stepped back between the two women with a shrug. “I know, but life on the front page can only take a break for so long. Matty, Justin, this is my girlfriend Amanda Rollins and my favourite NYPD Lieutenant, Olivia Benson.” She smiled, gesturing to each woman respectively.

Shaking their hands, they exchanged pleasantries. “It’s great to finally meet the woman our Peanut fell in love with and any favourite of hers is a favourite of ours.” Justin smiled as he shook Olivia’s hand.

“Okay, now go, have fun! I’m sure Katie and Em will eventually track you down.” Matt smiled, giving them all a friendly wave to join the crowd.

♡♡♡

After they’d had a few drinks, Olivia sighed, resting her chin on her hands. “I just don’t know why I thought we could make it work. Clearly he’d had other plans, and they didn’t include Noah or I.” She frowned.

Maddie and Amanda shared a look as Amanda put a hand on Olivia’s arm. “Liv, he’s an ass. You and Noah deserve someone who will put the two of you first.”

As Maddie scanned the bar, she felt her eyes widen when she saw Barba. “So, not to make this worse… but he’s here…”

Olivia followed her gaze and gasped. “What the hell is he doing here? Oh my God, I am too drunk for this… or not drunk enough… I don’t know…”

“Breathe. You know the best way to make him see what he’s missing is to have fun and dance, so that’s what we’re going to do.” Maddie nodded, taking Olivia’s hand, who in turn grabbed Amanda’s hand as they made their way to the dancefloor.

Barba scanned the crowd, wondering what the hell he was doing here. He never really went to places like this, but after everything with Olivia, maybe he was hoping to take his mind off of it. 

Until he saw her in the crowd. 

Damn, she looked beautiful. The black dress she’d worn that hugged every curve and had no back showed off just how amazing her figure was. “Holy shit…”

Of course, she was here with Amanda and Maddie, who looked like they were lost in their world as they danced together.

Why did he have to be so stupid?

Just as he was about to turn away, he made eye contact with Maddie who simply shot daggers at him. She respected the hell out of him as an ADA, she even thought of him as the brother she’d always wanted. But as a man who broke her friend's heart? She was trying to burn him to the ground with her glare. 

He saw her whisper something in Amanda’s ear, kissing her before she started to walk in his direction. 

Briefly, his eyes drifted up towards the women still dancing, clearly paying no mind to the fact that he was there.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Maddie asked, folding her arms as she stopped in front of him.

“Hello to you too, Maddie.” Barba greeted, making Maddie roll her eyes.

“She doesn’t need this right now. You broke her heart. All she’s ever wanted was someone to love her and her son, someone to be with her, and you were supposed to be it, but you messed up, Rafi.”

Well, at least he still got his nickname. “Last I checked I was an adult who could make my own decisions.” Barba shot back.

He could see Maddie’s hands clench into fists. “You know what? You don’t get to make a decision that can impact more than just your relationship with her. You unilaterally decided that you were done, so she deserves to have a night to not think about the bullshit you put her through. If you want to talk to her about it, you can find her at mine and Amanda’s place tomorrow. ¿Me entiendes, Rafi?”

Barba clenched his jaw before nodding. “Entendido.” He agreed, turning on his heel and walking out of the club.

Chapter Text

yes it's really over now, you're so good at letting me down, so i’mma buy a bottle of the best, champagne raise a glass all to myself, in your name. and i’mma cry if i want to, it's my party without you, here's to all the pain, champagne…

♡♡♡

“Please tell me you have more alcohol…” Olivia whined as she pulled her heels off, sitting on the couch.

Amanda laughed, shaking her head. “I would cut you off but you only had two glasses at the club, so I think that I can dig up some champagne.” She smirked.

Maddie walked into the living room, sitting in one of the oversized chairs across from Olivia. “You doing okay Liv?” She asked.

The brunette just shrugged. “I don’t know… I mean, he was there one minute and then after you came back from the restroom he was gone. It almost didn’t feel real.” She murmured.

The younger woman nodded slowly, her and Amanda had come to an agreement that they wouldn’t tell Olivia that Maddie had told him to get lost. “I’m pretty sure I saw him leaving when I was on my way back to you guys, so he must have just decided that he was being an idiot.”

Olivia laughed softly as Amanda came over with three glasses of champagne, the open bottle tucked under her arm. “You know what? Let’s forget about him. We’ll drink champagne, order the greasiest pizza to try and prevent a hangover and watch absolute garbage movies.” She suggested.

Maddie and Olivia both nodded. “Works for me.” She lifted her glass. “To getting over men!” She grinned.

Olivia raised her glass. “To getting over men!” She agreed, emptying her glass quite quickly.

♡♡♡

The next morning, Maddie woke up to the sound of her phone ringing, the shrill sound letting her know that it was Walter calling from the lobby. “Morning Walter, what can I do for you?” She asked, rolling herself out of her bed.

“Sorry to wake you Ms. Campbell, but a Mr. Barba is here to see you.” He looked at the man standing across from him. “Shall I send him up?”

Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!

“Umm yes, please. Thank you, Walter.” Maddie hung up and shook Amanda. “Baby wake up.”

Amanda groaned and pulled the covers over her head.

“You don’t have a choice! I told Barba to come over this morning if he wanted to talk to Liv!” She hissed.

Amanda pulled the blankets down. “She’s going to kill you!” 

Maddie rolled her eyes as she pulled on an oversized sweater that hit her mid thigh. “Yeah, I got that, thanks for the help.” Pulling on her slippers, she ran down the stairs right as Barba knocked on the door. Giving a quick good morning to the Lieutenant who was lying on the couch pinching her temples.

Pulling the door open, Maddie moved aside to let him in. “Counsellor.”

“Maddie. I brought coffee.” He set a carrying tray down on the island, awkwardly shifting his weight between his feet.

Olivia rose from the couch in some of Maddie’s clothes, the damp cloth falling from her eyes. “Rafa? What are you doing here?” She asked, visibly tensing up.

“I was hoping we could talk?” He bit his lower lip before Amanda descended the stairs.

“Wow… cut the tension in here with a knife.” She muttered, grabbing the coffee with her name on it.

Maddie took that moment to grab her coffee, take Amanda’s hand and lead her out onto the balcony. “We don’t sit outside and enjoy the view enough.” She announced, pulling them onto the balcony before shutting the door behind them. “Oh my God, what did I do?”

“You gave them a chance to try and work this out like adults. No matter what, you did a good thing here darlin’.” Amanda smiled, taking a seat at the small table. 

“Let’s just hope they look at it that way too.” Maddie tapped the side of her mug, looking through the glass doors at the couple.

♡♡♡

Moving to the other side of the kitchen island, Olivia leaned against the cool marble counter. “You wanted to talk?” She offered, hoping it would get him to stop staring at her.

“Look, Liv I know I messed up, I really did, but I can’t… I can’t picture my life without you.” He hadn’t slept since they had broken up. Since he, as Maddie had put it, unilaterally decided that they were done.

“Rafa, you were the one who said we were done! You decided that you didn’t want this relationship anymore! I can’t risk Noah getting hurt, thank God he doesn’t know what’s going on! You were it for me, Rafa! I was done! And then you walked out. You cannot waltz in and out of my life, or my son’s life! I won’t allow that!” Olivia shook her head.

Barba tensed up, his hurt and subsequent anger ready to rear its ugly head. But he simply took a breath and looked down at the counter. “So it’s really over?” He asked quietly.

Olivia was grateful he was looking down and couldn’t see the tears that fell down her cheeks. “I’m not sorry, for my choice, Rafa… I have more than just myself to worry about.” She whispered.

He nodded, looking up at Olivia. “I’m sorry that I let you down, Liv.” He whispered, closing the distance between them and pressing a kiss to her forehead before leaving the apartment.

Maddie and Amanda, who had been watching the whole thing, rushed inside the second Barba was gone.

“Liv? Liv I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have invited him here. I didn’t…” Maddie tried apologizing before Olivia shook her head.

“It’s not your fault Maddie. He made his choice and I made mine.” She whispered, her tears falling faster now. 

Moving forward, Maddie wrapped her arms around Olivia, holding the woman as tight as she could without hurting her.

“It’s really over.” She cried as Amanda helped guide her to the couch. “It’s really over now…” She whispered, the reality of what happened settling like a weight on her chest.

Maddie and Amanda just sat, holding Olivia and letting her cry. 

“We’ve got you Liv.” Maddie whispered.

Amanda nodded in agreement. “We’re not letting go.”

Chapter Text

i still taste your presence, once sweet but it turned sour, tried to shake your indifference, but it's too late now. i hear you in the quiet, i see you when i'm in the dark, you just couldn't fight for this, but it's not your fault. / say what you mean out loud, drowning in silence when i'm lost in the crowd. ‘cause every sweet thing you never speak, is deafening, never knowing what could be, wish i could show you how, but you're just a ghost now

♡♡♡

It felt like they were kids stuck in the middle of a bad divorce. Olivia was over nearly every night with Noah, who was very quickly becoming accustomed to staying over at the apartment. And during the day Maddie found herself fielding calls from Barba, to Liv.

On top of that, Lucia had been checking in with Maddie; either to make sure that she was okay or to ask about Liv and Barba.

“Baby… you can’t keep doing this… you’re gonna burn yourself out.” Amanda sighed as she laid down next to Maddie on their bed.

Maddie sighed, knowing that Amanda was right but still unable to shake the feeling of guilt. “I know but… if I hadn’t–”

Amanda sat up, cutting her off. “No, Maddie. You can’t keep blaming yourself for what two adults chose to do with their relationship.” She shook her head.

Maddie, who’d been exhausted from dealing with Olivia and Barba, as well as the company, simply nodded. “Okay… then tomorrow, we figure something out.” 

What would it take to get them back together? A hell of a lot more than divine intervention that’s for sure.

♡♡♡

The next day, the two blondes set their plan into action.

Amanda poked her head into Liv’s office. “Hey Liv, I was wondering if you wanted to grab lunch with me? The boys are buried in paperwork, but what else is new. I figure if we bring them back something they won’t notice we left.”

Olivia who’d been tapping her pen against her notepad looked up and nodded at the request. “Yes, I desperately need to get out of this office.” She laughed a little, grabbing her bag and coat before the two snuck by Carisi and Fin.

Across town, Maddie was setting a similar plan into action. “Rafi, have you even eaten anything since your mom dropped off lunch for you yesterday?” She asked. “Have you even been home?” 

Barba shook his head, running a hand over his face. “I can’t Mads… every time I’m there… I think of Liv and Noah…” He whispered.

Maddie’s heart broke, seeing just how torn up he was about it.

“C’mon… we’re getting you out of this office for a while. You’re going to eat something, you’re going to go home just long enough to shower and change, and we’ll go from there.” She instructed, grabbing his coat from the rack by the door.

Poking her head out of the office, she looked at Carmen. “Hey, Carmen can you clear his schedule for the next two hours?”

Carmen raised a brow in question before simply nodding. “Of course, Mads. Just… make sure that he’s alright.”

Maddie smiled softly. “Everything is going to work out, Carmen. I promise.”

♡♡♡

When Maddie and Barba got to the diner, Olivia and Amanda were already there. “Mads, what the hell is this?” Barba asked as Maddie pretty much forced him over to the table.

“I’m tired… guys… I love you two, I do. But I can’t keep letting my guilt be the reason that I’m running interference for you,” she gestured to Barba, “and letting you and Noah crash in the guest room.” She looked at Olivia. “I’m sorry, but please… I know you can work this out. Rafi, you haven’t slept in your apartment because it reminds you too much of Olivia and Noah. You look like hell, and I know for a fact you’re not eating properly. Liv, you’re like my big sister… and it kills me to see you so unhappy all the time. Noah’s worried about you too. Look… I know this is probably not just going to be a quick fix but please… please try to work this out.” 

Before either could say anything, Amanda led Maddie outside. “You’re going to come back to the precinct with me, and you’re taking a nap in the cribs.”

Maddie was going to argue, but after a glare from Amanda, the younger blonde simply nodded and climbed into the car.

Inside the restaurant, Olivia and Barba sat in a tense, awkward silence as they stared at the menus. “So… should we talk?” Barba asked, chancing a glance at Olivia.

Olivia set her menu down and nodded. “I miss you, Rafa… it’s… I’ve been staying with Maddie and Amanda, hoping that eventually I’d be able to go home but I can’t.”

“Liv, I meant what I said at Maddie’s. I want to make it up to you. I was an idiot, and it took me too long to get over my pride to realize that the only thing I want, the only thing I need is you and Noah.” He explained. “Nothing I can say will make it better, I know that, but I promise, I’ll show you.” He added, taking Olivia’s hands in his own.

She didn’t pull her hands back, so that was a good sign.

“I believe you, Rafa and I’m sorry that I didn’t let you explain before. I guess I’m still just used to people leaving and never coming back. I didn’t want to let myself believe that maybe you’d stay.” She admitted.

Barba gave her a gentle smile. “I’ll always stay, Liv.”

♡♡♡

Walking hand in hand into the precinct, Amanda perked up a little when she saw them.

“Liv, Counsellor, I hope that we didn’t overstep… I just couldn’t stand to see Maddie running herself ragged over this.” She bit the inside of her cheek, fully expecting to be read the riot act over this.

Instead, Barba just shook his head. “Sorry we put her in the middle, we owe her an apology. Did she go back to her office?” He asked.

Shaking her head, Amanda rose from her chair, leading the two towards the cribs. Quietly opening the door, they saw Maddie curled up on one of the bunks, tucked underneath a blanket using her coat as a second pillow. “She’s barely slept so I figured that I’d let her crash here,” Amanda whispered.

“Let her sleep; we’ll talk to her later.” Olivia smiled a little, gently tugging Barba’s hand away from the cribs.

When Maddie finally woke up around five, the precinct was surprisingly quiet. Uniforms were switching shifts and Fin, and Carisi had ducked out sometime while she was sleeping.

“Hey, there sleepyhead.” Amanda smiled, walking over to her girlfriend. “How do you feel?”

“How am I more tired?” Maddie pouted. “Please tell me that I’m not going to get yelled at?”

Amanda just smirked and nodded towards Olivia’s office. “I think you’re good.” She smiled.

When Maddie peered into the office, Olivia and Barba were sitting on the couch, laughing, talking and having dinner. “Shit, I didn’t think it would work.”

“C’mon.” Amanda walked over and knocked on the door. “Liv, Counsellor… Maddie’s here.”

Standing from their spots on the couch, the two moved to each hug her. “We’re so sorry that you were caught in the middle of this. And please don’t feel like it’s your fault, we have both been using you as an anchor, and that’s not fair. You had nothing to do with what pulled us apart, but you helped bring us back together. Both of you, and we’re so grateful.” Olivia smiled, looking over at Barba.

Turning his head to look at Olivia, Barba smiled and gave her a kiss, one that was not work appropriate, causing Maddie and Amanda to groan and rush out of the office.

“Go home you two! We’re taking Jesse for the night so you two can have some alone time.” Olivia called after them.

Before they rounded the corner to the elevator, Maddie turned around. “Keep it PG you two!” She called back, following after Amanda.

“I have to say we got pretty lucky with our family, don’t you think?” Olivia asked, resting her chin on Barba’s shoulder.

Pressing a kiss to her forehead, Barba nodded. “I couldn’t agree more.”

Chapter Text

nothing that you say is mildly true, spit deceit through shifty smiles. two faces you’ve had for a while, you act like such a fucking child. who are you now, you’re so hostile to me, i’m feeling homicidal, you better run and try to hide.

♡♡♡

It wasn’t the first invitation for dinner at Maddie’s that Amanda had to turn down due to work. But when the case unexpectedly wrapped up early, Carisi had offered to watch Jesse so that Amanda could go to the dinner.

When she arrived at the building, she saw Maddie waiting in the lobby for her. “Amanda!” She grinned, running over. “I’m so glad that you could make it!” 

As they made their way into the apartment, Amanda looked around. Taking in the modern kitchen and dining room, the relatively high ceilings and the fact that there were stairs, made it very clear the apartment cost more than her childhood home. “Darlin’ this place is beautiful.”

“I’m glad you like it. I know it’s a bit much, but Daniel insisted on decorating after my mom died.” Maddie explained, doing her best to keep her sadness out of her voice.

“Oh good, you’re both here.” Daniel’s voice broke through their momentary silence. “Well Maddie, aren’t you going to introduce us?” He asked, looking to Amanda. “Sometimes I don’t know where her manners are.” 

Maddie just gave the best smile she could manage. “Of course. Daniel, this is my girlfriend, Amanda Rollins. Amanda, my brother Daniel and his fiancé, Emily Clairwood. They’re getting married next spring.”

“Yes and as soon as we’re married, I will be handing over the company to my darling sister.” Daniel smiled, though he knew he had no intention of handing the company over.

Maddie scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Of course you will.” 

Daniel looked over at her. “What was that Madeline?”

“Nothing.” Maddie shook her head, earning a snide, “that’s what I thought.” From Daniel.

Amanda looked between Maddie and Daniel, her gaze fixated on Daniel. “I’m sorry? What do you mean handing over the company?”

“When Maddie’s mother died, Maddie was still in school, so I took over the company until she felt ready.” He explained.

♡♡♡

After what could only be described as the most awkward dinner in history, Maddie and Amanda sat on the younger’s bed. “I’m sorry about that.” Maddie apologized as she shook her head.

Standing up, Amanda grabbed a suitcase she’d seen in the corner of Maddie’s room. “I’m gonna take you to Maya’s. I don’t like the idea of you staying here. Something about your brother doesn’t sit well with me.”

Helping her pack a bag, Maddie sent a text to Maya, explaining the situation to her as she threw another sweater in the suitcase, placing a family photo on top.

A knock on the door drew their attention as Daniel stepped in the room. “Where do you think you’re going?” He asked.

Maddie zipped up her suitcase, turning to face her brother. “Not that I have to explain myself to you, but Maya and Tyler are going to New Orleans, so they asked me to watch their apartment.”

Without another word, Maddie walked past him carrying her suitcase downstairs. 

As Amanda walked past Daniel to follow Maddie, he grabbed her arm. “I do not appreciate insubordination, and I especially do not appreciate being lied to.” He whispered, his voice sending a chill right down Amanda’s spine.

“You are not her father, and this sick hold you have on her is over.” Amanda shot back.

Daniel chuckled, letting go of Amanda’s arm, he smirked as she walked away. “You should know, Detective Rollins, I always get what I want.”

♡♡♡

After dropping Maddie off at Maya’s, Amanda pulled out her phone and pressed Carisi’s speed dial.

“Rollins, what’s up?” Jesse’s okay, finally fell asleep.” He explained.

“Thanks, Carisi, but I need your help. Can you bring Jesse to the precinct with you? We need to do some research.” Amanda explained, checking her mirrors before pulling away from the curb.

“Sure thing, I’ll meet you there.”

Chapter Text

take pictures in your mind of your childhood room. memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home. remember the footsteps, remember the words said. and all your little brother’s favourite songs. i just realized everything i have is someday gonna be gone. 

♡♡♡

Barba had taken on the role of a father to Noah quite early on in his relationship with Olivia, only intensifying and solidifying itself once they were married. A year and a half into their marriage, Olivia gave birth to a daughter, Catalina Alexandra Barba. 

With both of them being working parents, Olivia moving up to Captain of SVU and Barba moving to NYU as a Law Professor, they’d always be exhausted by the time they got home, allowing some of Noah’s behaviours to slip under the radar.

Until he threw one of his books at his now three-year-old sister when she grabbed one of his action figures off the table. “Cat! Those aren’t yours!” He shouted, quickly drawing Barba’s attention from the papers he’d been grading.

Catalina’s high pitched cry rang through their apartment, causing Barba to drop everything and rush towards his daughter. “Noah Porter Barba! You do not yell at your sister, and you do not throw things at her! Sit in your room until I come and talk to you!” He bellowed, watching the ten-year-old stomp off to his room, wincing as the door slammed shut.

Trying to calm his daughter down, he looked at the time. It was only half past five, which meant Olivia would be getting home with the team and Maddie and Jesse for their weekly dinner at any moment.

Before he even had the chance to try and talk to Noah, the door swung open and in ran Jesse followed by Carisi and Fin and then Amanda, Maddie and Olivia. “Hey whoa, what happened to Cat? And where’s Noah?” Olivia asked, immediately taking in the scene of her daughter and husband and missing son.

Barba sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I guess Cat got ahold of one of Noah’s action figures and he didn’t like that, so he threw his book at her.” He pressed a kiss to the small bump on his daughter’s forehead.

“He did what?! I’m going to talk to him!” Olivia fumed. She had been hoping that they were done with his outbursts.

Barba held up a hand, grabbing Olivia’s arm gently. “No, I got this. Take Cat, and tell Carisi to try not to burn dinner tonight.” He shot a look at the detective and smirked.

Olivia took the toddler into her arms, kissing the same spot Rafael had and wiping the tears from her little rosy cheeks. “It’s okay sweet girl.” She smiled.

“Are we gonna talk about the fact that Barba told me not to burn dinner? Because I only did that once!” Carisi huffed as he hung up his jacket, making his way over to the kitchen.

“Carisi, you burned a frozen pizza. That’s a new level of bad cooking.” Maddie pointed out, making her way over to Liv. “Go on, I know you wanna go listen, I’ll take Princess Lina. That way mommy can go check in daddy and Prince Noah while we stay here and play with Princess Jesse.”

♡♡♡

Making her way down the hallway, Olivia stopped outside Noah’s room, listening to the conversation.

“I don’t know, is not a good enough answer as to why you threw the book at your sister! Noah, she’s three, and you’re ten, you’re almost twice her size, she could have gotten seriously hurt.” Barba explained.

Noah just folded his arms across his chest. “I liked it better when it was just you, mom and me.” He huffed.

“Buddy,” Barba sighed, sitting next to his son, “just because we have Cat, doesn’t mean we don’t love you any less.” He pointed out.

Noah didn’t say anything, he just stared at his father, not quite believing him.

“Your dad’s right, sweet boy.” Olivia finally moved into their son’s room, sitting on the other side of him. “You were the one who made us parents, and we will not love you any less, no matter what.” 

Letting it sink in, Noah nodded slowly. “I’m sorry I threw the book at Cat.” He mumbled.

Olivia and Barba nodded, avoiding saying that it was okay, as best as possible. “We know you are, mijo. But you are still grounded, which means no TV or video games for the rest of the week.” Barba stated firmly.

Noah nodded his head and got up off the bed. “Can I go see everyone now?” He asked.

“Of course you can, sweet boy. But, you also have to apologize to Cat. She’s with you, Auntie Maddie.” Olivia urged, watching him run out of the room.

“We did pretty well with him, huh?” Barba smirked, looking over at Olivia.

“I’d say so.” She nodded, standing up. “Now c’mon, I’m afraid Carisi might burn dinner out of spite.” She laughed.

♡♡♡

“I’m sorry that I threw my book at you, Cat. You can play with my action figures if you want to.” Noah apologized, holding out the plastic toy to Cat who was sitting on Maddie’s lap. 

The green-eyed child looked up at her brother with a grin. “Love, Noah! Noah play?” She asked, squirming in Maddie’s lap.

“Yeah, let’s play! Jesse, come play too!” Noah nodded excitedly as the blonde six-year-old hopped off the couch.

As the kids played, Maddie got up and walked over to the rest of the adults, watching Barba and Carisi argue over dinner. “You two are worse than our kids.” Amanda pointed out.

Olivia watched all of them, the adults acting like kids, the adults acting like adults, and of course their kids. Even amidst the chaos, there was peace.

This was it, no matter what happened, this was their family.

Chapter Text

Hey everyone! Ashleigh here!

 

So before, I mentioned that I have a playlist for each of the songs in this collection, so I thought it would be easiest to make this it’s own separate entry!

This playlist will be updated every time this collection is, and there are two formats!

If you have Spotify it can be found: here

And if you don’t have Spotify there is a YouTube version: here

(If either of those links don’t work let me know!!)

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!

I have about six or seven songs lined up for one shots, and there are two others that I can’t post until I finish The Heiress (someone please yell at me until I finish that book… I have two others to write after that) so there will be more coming your way shortly! That being said, I am always taking requests, and will do my best to have those ones up shortly after they’re requested. Right now I have two of my own that just need to be edited before I get them ready to post so those will be coming sometime this week, so if I get any request they’ll come after those two.

 

AND LASTLY! THANK YOU! For your support on my first deep dive into the world of SVU Fan Fiction!! I appreciate all the feedback and kudos!! You’re all very amazing and wonderful!!

 

— A

Chapter Text

there’s empty places in my life and i need to breathe. there’s empty spaces on the map, waiting there for me. i’ll take the last exit to freedom, the last chance to be free. and the first sight of tomorrow, feels like freedom to me. / oh there’s hope out on the horizon, and a light only i can see. it’s the last exit to freedom, the last chance to be — free.

♡♡♡

June 18, 2038

Retirement was a word that Olivia still found herself getting used to. Her life had changed so much in her fourty years at SVU.

Amanda and Maddie had a second child, Billie Olivia Rollins, which was shocking and heartwarming for the Captain, well, now former Captain, of SVU.

Noah was now twenty-five and had moved up from a uniformed officer to a junior detective with SVU, to the surprise of no one. He had started dating Billie Rollins, to no one’s surprise, when Billie was seventeen.

Even Barba had come back after a year and a half away from SVU. He was now teaching law at NYU and had come to have an amicable relationship with his replacement. Who wasn’t as bad as he had seemed at the start.

Jesse Rolins, who was twenty-three, had started her third year at Harvard Law the previous fall, and after many talks with her Uncle Rafa, decided to take the leap and look into working with the DA’s office once she was finished school. She had started to date Gwen Pan, the daughter of now Senior Detective, George Pan.

Billie Rollins, who was twenty, had started business school in New York that previous fall and planned to take over at Campbell Worldwide Media, happy to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Amanda Rollins had been promoted to Captain of SVU after Olivia’s departure, and Dominick Carisi Jr. had been promoted to Lieutenant shortly after.

Odafin Tutuola had retired three years before Olivia, though he always came around when he knew they were going through a hard case. He’d started spending more time with his son, son-in-law and grandchildren. Ken and Alejandro had adopted a little girl shortly after Jaden turned three.

Of course, Maddie and Amanda had hosted the party, they had been in the same house since Jesse was three and now that they were all out of the house, it was too empty for them. At least that’s what Amanda had said when they asked to plan the party.

♡♡♡

“B, c’mon the whole family’s gonna be here soon!” Maddie leaned down, kissing the top of her daughter’s head.

Billie sighed and got up off the couch. “Ma, you’re acting like they’ve never come over before. You’ve had dinner every week since Noah was six.” She pointed out as she made her way towards the stairs.

As Jesse was coming downstairs, she gave her sister a hug. “I laid out your favourite outfit for you. And I’ll do your makeup once Gwen gets here.” She grinned.

“Thanks, J.” Billie smiled and jogged up the stairs.

“You’re in a good mood today J. What’s up?” Maddie asked, eyeing her eldest daughter as she moved into the kitchen, setting up a few of the dishes that they’d made for the party.

Jesse shrugged. “Out of the two of us, I’m usually the one who’s like this anyways. But it never hurts to see your girlfriend for the first time since you got home from Harvard because you’ve been interning with the DA while reading ahead for the next school year.”

“I was never this ahead in school; I don’t know where you get it from baby girl.” Amanda laughed, walking in from the living room.

“Slackers don’t make good ADA’s mama.” She pointed out.

“You sound too much like Rafi, sweet girl.” Maddie laughed, rolling her eyes.

A knock on the door interrupted the conversation as Jesse ran towards the door, throwing it open.

Without saying anything, Gwen and Jesse wrapped their arms around each other, George awkwardly sliding by them to greet Maddie and Amanda.

“Boss lady.” He chuckled, hugging Amanda. “Other boss lady,” he grinned, moving to hug Maddie.

“Hey, Georgie. How’s the family back in good old Storybrooke?” Maddie asked.

“Well we’ve gone three months without incident, so Henry’s going Boston to write, Hayley’s starting up at the Nightingale school here,” he shrugged.

Jesse rolled her eyes. “Ugh, they’re a bunch of prep school bitches.” She huffed.

“Jesse!” Amanda and Maddie both scolded.

“Well, it’s true! They think they’re so much better because they go to an all-girls school.” She pointed out.

Gwen just laughed. “Don’t worry, Jesse, I’m pretty sure the best girls I know went to Beacon High.”

Jesse smiled and kissed her cheek. “You’re just saying that because you like when I call you tiny princess. Now c’mon… I promised B that I would do her makeup for the party.”

“Anyways, you were saying George,” Maddie laughed as the teens disappeared up the stairs.

“Right, well Hayley and Tony are both on their way up to New York, Henry’s going to Boston. Effy is on her way to DC to become the youngest White House Correspondent, and Tony is still here finishing up his residency at Bellevue.” He explained.

“Wow, they sound like really dedicated kids, Storybrooke was lucky to have them, and I’m sure they’ll do great things around here.” Amanda smiled, patting George on the shoulder.

“Yeah, it’s… weird, you know one day they fit in your arms, the next… they’re changing the world.” George chuckled.

“Don’t we know it,” Maddie sighed, pulling out a few more glasses from the cupboard.

“No more sad stuff, you two, or I will start crying! We have a party to throw!” Amanda shook her head, ushering the two into the living room to finish hanging up the decorations.

♡♡♡

Slowly, their family started to arrive, and soon the house was full of people.

Olivia was chatting with Carisi and his husband Isaac, their twins Jacob and Oliver, playing with Noah and Billie. Barba was talking to Jesse and Gwen just a few feet from her, occasionally sharing glances and smiles.

Maya and Tyler were chatting with Ken and Alejandro while Jaden was talking to Hannah, Maya and Tyler’s daughter, about their upcoming school year.

Becca and Tyler were talking to Amanda, Maddie and George before Fin cleared his throat, walking in from the kitchen.

“I’d just like to make a quick toast.” He stepped in just enough that he was in front of the group. “You know when I joined SVU, I knew it was gonna change my life, but I didn’t realize that I’d be changing so many lives along the way. Liv… damn, she was the heart of SVU long before I got there, you’ve been on the job longer than anyone I’ve ever known, and you have impacted so many people’s lives. I don’t think that any of us would be standing here, together if it weren’t for you. You’ve been the heart of SVU for fourty years, Liv. Now it’s time to take a breath. You’re leaving behind a great group of people, SVU will be safe in their hands, so Liv, I’m begging you, look after yourself first for a change.”

Olivia wiped a stray tear from her cheek as she laughed, standing up to give Fin a hug. “Thanks, Fin.” She whispered.

Excusing herself to go to the bathroom, Olivia set her glass down on the kitchen counter and before making a beeline for the downstairs bathroom.

Fixing her makeup after all of the speeches given after Fin’s, she headed back towards the living room, her heart filling with the sound of her family talking and laughing.

As she picked up her glass, she caught sight of her wedding ring, spinning it around before looking out at the people in the living room. All of them were engrossed in separate conversations, but all of them were together. She thought back to a time when Noah was younger, there was a lot more heartache surrounding the previous events, but it was her family that got her through it. And if anyone was going to get her through this next chapter in her life, it was her family.

It was time to take a breath.

Chapter Text

in the south land, there's a city, way down on a river. where the women are very pretty, and all the men deliver. they got music, it's always playin', start in the day time go all through the night. when you hear that music playin', hear what i'm sayin' it make you feel alright. grab somebody, come on down. bring your paint brush, we're paintin' the town. honey there's some sweetness goin' 'round. catch it down in new orleans. 

♡♡♡

For a few days after the case had wrapped up, there was an odd feeling settling over Maddie, like it was getting harder for her to breathe in New York. While she had planned on going back to New Orleans, she couldn't help but get more and more desperate as the days went by.

"I have a present for you," Maddie announced as she walked over to Amanda and Jesse. "I already cleared it with Liv, so you Jesse and I are all going down to New Orleans for a week." She grinned, placing the first class tickets in front of her girlfriend.

Amanda looked at the tickets with a raised brow. "You're taking us with you to New Orleans?"

"Of course, I am! After everything you've done for me, there will never be enough I can do to repay you, but I want you to come and see what my life was like back home." She smiled.

"So, will you do me the honours and come with me?"

Amanda nodded quickly. "Of course we will."

♡♡♡

Once they were in New Orleans, Amanda saw an entirely new side to Maddie. Her eyes were filled with childlike wonder as she showed Amanda and Jesse around.

"This was my childhood home. We didn't move to the French Quarter until I was in the seventh grade." Maddie explained, pointing to a smaller home just off one of the main streets.

"Mama, I'm hungry." Jesse looked up at Maddie with a scrunched up nose.

She and Amanda were lucky, Jesse had slept through most of the flight, which made it easier for them to talk and enjoy themselves.

"Okay sweet girl, let's go and find somewhere to eat."

As the three of them moved through the town, music and various restaurants greeted them. "Wow, this takes me back," Maddie whispered.

Walking into a familiar restaurant, Maddie was greeted by the same owns as when she was a kid.

"Maddie?" Ms. Loretta asked, emerging from the kitchen. "It's been too long! You look, great honey!"

"Ms. Loretta!" Maddie grinned, hugging the woman. "I know, I know I kept meaning to visit, but things kept popping up." She gave an apologetic smile.

"We know. A lot of us followed the trial in New York. I'm glad that rotten boy will suffer for what he did to you."

Maddie allowed herself to smile. "Thank you, Ms. Loretta."

The older woman smiled before looking to Amanda and Jesse. "Child, where are your manners? I know your parents raised you right. Who are these lovely ladies with you?"

"Sorry. Ms. Loretta, this is my girlfriend, Amanda Rollins and her daughter Jesse." Maddie turned to her girlfriend. "Amanda, Jesse, this is Ms. Loretta Costello. This place was a go-to for our family, and mine and Maya's first job."

Amanda reached out her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Loretta." She looked at Jesse. "Can you say hi to Ms. Loretta, angel?"

Jesse looked at the woman and waved with a toothy grin. "Hi! You know my mama?" She asked.

Ms. Loretta nodded. "I do know your mama. She used to come here all the time. Do you want to see what she used to do? Provided it's okay with your mama's."

When Jesse turned to look at the two, Amanda smiled and nodded. "Have fun baby, and listen to Ms. Loretta okay?"

As the woman took Jesse by the hand and lead her towards the kitchen, Maddie and Amanda took a seat near the window. "It's amazing to see you like this." Amanda smiled.

"Like what?"

"Happy." Amanda placed her hand over Maddie's.

Smiling, Maddie looked around before her eyes settled back on Amanda. "Despite everything that happened this year; with you and Jesse, I was already happy. Now back here with you two, where I grew up. I finally feel at peace.

♡♡♡

That night, as they walked down one of the most popular places in New Orleans, Bourbon Street, they stopped in at a jazz club.

"Is that Maddie Campbell I see?" She heard from behind the bar.

"Dwayne? Your old man finally let you take over the place?" Maddie asked as she sat Jesse down at the quote-unquote "bar." Turning to Amanda, she smiled. "This is the only jazz club in New Orleans that doesn't sell alcohol. More of a kind friendly place."

"My old man always wanted to keep the kids safe, so he opened this place. Experience the New Orleans jazz scene without the risk of underage drinking." Dwayne grinned placing a glass of milk and a plate of cookies in front of Jesse.

"That's pretty impressive." Amanda nodded. "I'm just gonna run to the restroom." She smiled, kissing Maddie's cheek.

Dwayne watched Amanda walk away before turning to Maddie. "New York sure has its moments huh blondie?" He teased.

Rolling her eyes, Maddie looked at Dwayne with a "really?" type of expression. "I need your help. I'm proposing tonight, do you think your band could play Over The Rainbow? Please?" She asked.

"Anything for you blondie." He nodded and headed towards the stage to meet up with his band.

By the time Amanda came out of the washroom, the song was almost in full swing. "Okay, before we go any further, please give a warm welcome to my friend, the prodigal daughter of New Orleans, Maddie Campbell."

Walking up onto the stage, Maddie looked at the crowd. "Thank you for that warm and dramatic welcome Dwayne." She laughed. "I'd like to call Amanda and Jesse Rollins up here for a moment."

As they stood on stage, Maddie turned to Amanda. "Amanda Rollins, almost the whole time I've known you, you've done nothing but help me. You took care of me and picked me up when I was at my lowest. I know we haven't talked about it much or even been officially a couple for what most people would consider a normal amount of time, but I love you and Jesse more than anything. So," she began, kneeling and holding up the ring box. "Amanda Lynne Rollins, will you marry me?"

Covering her mouth with her hands, Amanda nodded. "Yes, yes, of course, I'll marry you."

Sliding the ring on her finger, Maddie stood up and kissed Amanda as the crowd erupted into cheers.

They had both gotten what they wanted more than anything; a family.

 

Chapter Text

there is no life - no life without its hunger, each restless heart beats so imperfectly. but then you come and i am filled with wonder. sometimes, i think i glimpse eternity. you raise me up, so i can stand on mountains, you raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. i am strong, when i am on your shoulders, you raise me up, to more than i can be.

♡♡♡

“We’re married.” Olivia smiled, looking at Rafael as they danced amongst their friends.

Rafael merely chuckled at her bewilderment. “You seem shocked mi amor.”

“In the best way, I promise. I can’t believe that we are finally married.”

He would have to give her that, when they came into each others lives nearly a decade ago he never thought that he would be marrying the, then detective, who put his skills to the test. “I get it, Liv… I feel the same way.”

As the two continued to dance, Maddie and Amanda made their way over, dancing alongside them. “Congratulations you two, I’m glad that we could be here for your special day.” Maddie smiled.

“I have a feeling we wouldn’t have heard the end of it if we’d gone with just us at the courthouse.” Rafael gave Maddie a pointed look.

“Of course you wouldn’t but don’t even make jokes about that. I don’t want to slap you on your wedding day.” She teased.

Amanda laughed as she spun the two of them away, allowing Olivia and Rafael their moment.

♡♡♡

As the night progressed, many laughs, tears, and drinks were shared with the rest of their family, Maddie walked out to Olivia and Rafael. “Hey Liv, mind if I steal mi hermano for a minute?” She asked.

“Be my guest, only if you don’t mind me stealing your wife.” She countered.

Maddie shook her head. “Of course not! I’m sure she’s been dying to listen to someone other than me all night.”

Placing one hand on his shoulder, Maddie took Rafael’s hand as his settled on her waist. “So, any particular reason you decided to interject at this moment?” He asked, knowing that she and Olivia had been planning something.

“None at all,”

Maddie did well at feigning innocence until the DJ came over the stereo system. “If I could have everyone’s attention, please. Tonight, not only are we gathered here to witness the incredible wedding of Olivia and Rafael, but there is someone that we need to honour as well. There’s a special person who, unfortunately, couldn’t be here tonight, but had asked someone to dance to a special song as the final dance of the evening.”

The younger wiped a tear that had fallen and looked up at Rafael whose eyes had turned red as he fought off tears of his own.

“Lucia Barba, unfortunately, couldn’t make it to her son’s wedding; but knowing that this may happen, reached out and asked her daughter, Madeline Rollins, to take over the dance for her. So I ask that they have the floor for this song.” It felt like an extra punch in the heart to be called her daughter. 

Turning around to face Rafael, Maddie gave a small smile. “I hope you’re not upset with Liv and me…” 

Rafael shook his head. “Of course not. Thank you for doing this.” He smiled a little as the song started to play.

“I know that I’m not mami, but Rafi, can I have this dance?” She asked, holding her hand out to him.

Rafael chuckled, retaking Maddie’s hand. “She’s here with us tonight, Mads and she’d be honoured that you’re dancing with me.” He smirked, taking her hand.

When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary

When troubles come, and my heart burdened be

Then, I am still and wait here in the silence

Until you come and sit awhile with me

 

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas

I am strong when I am on your shoulders

You raise me up to more than I can be

 

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas

I am strong when I am on your shoulders

You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains

 

There is no life - no life without its hunger

Each restless heart beats so imperfectly

But when you come and I am filled with wonder

Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity

 

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas

I am strong when I am on your shoulders

You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains

 

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas

I am strong when I am on your shoulders

You raise me up to more than I can be

 

You raise me up to more than I can be

As the song ended, both Maddie and Rafael were in tears, watching the slideshow that they’d put together of Lucia. “She would be so proud of you, Rafi… I know she is…” 

Rafael smiled, turning his gaze to Maddie. “Thank you for honouring her memory, and taking over her dance at my wedding, Maddie. I couldn’t have asked for something better to remember her by.” He gave her a tight hug; the tears that had been building had finally spilled over. 

Returning the hug, Maddie shook her head, her tears falling. “I’m just glad that I could be here for both of you.” She laughed tearfully as they both pulled away.

Olivia, who’d been crying as well (okay there was a good chance there wasn’t a dry eye in the house), walked over to them with Amanda, wrapping her arms around Maddie. “Thank you for this.”

“It was my honour, Liv. Now I believe we have to send you two off on your honeymoon.” She smiled, gesturing to their guests who had moved outside.

They lined either side of the path to the limo that was waiting for them, holding sparklers up in the air to light the way in the darkness.

“How did you even manage to do that? I thought everyone was watching you two." Olivia seemed speechless and confused by how quickly the guests had filed out of the building.

"Oh they were, but they took the time while the music was playing at the end to head outside." Amanda smiled as she walked up next to them. "So if you'll excuse me, I will take my wife, and we will be waiting for you at the end of the path."

As the sparklers lit the way, Olivia and Rafael walked towards the limo, occasionally stopping to thank people for coming and sharing the day with them.

Just as Amanda had said, they were waiting at the end of the path next to the limo with the rest of the SVU squad. "Congratulations you two, go enjoy your honeymoon and don't even think about sending any emails," Amanda warned.

Fin chuckled, giving Olivia a tight hug. "I'm happy for you, Liv." He smiled before moving to hug Barba.

"That was a beautiful wedding guys; I'm glad that we could be there for it." Carisi grinned, shaking Barba's hand.

"Okay, guys we're holding them up!" Maddie exclaimed with a laugh as the driver opened the door.

"Call us when you land so we know you got in safely, okay? And have fun." Maddie smiled before the limo drove off into the night

Sitting in the back of the limo, Olivia leaned against Rafael, looking up at him with a smile. “So, it looks like we’re still on for squabbling at eighty-five?” She asked.

“You’re on Mrs. Barba.” He smirked.

Chapter Text

of all the money that e'er i had, i spent it in good company. and of all the harm that e'er i’ve done, alas it was to none but me. and all i’ve done for want of wit, to memory now i can't recall. so fill to me the parting glass, goodnight and joy be with you all.

♡♡♡

A few months after Maddie and Amanda had come home from New Orleans, the two had put off announcing their engagement until the whole group could be together.

Since they’d come home, they’d started planning the wedding, and had gone back to New Orleans with Maya and Tyler. Ms. Loretta had passed away a month after Maddie and Amanda had been down, thoroughly shaking Maddie and Maya to the core. Since then, they’d tried to find the happier moments, like the first Mardi Gras they were going to hold as a family.

The kitchen in Maddie’s apartment had quickly turned into a bustling New Orleans restaurant. Each friend was working on a dish, often asking Maya and Maddie, the two New Orleanian Natives for advice.

“Ty! I told you the Barbecue shrimp can’t be browned!!” Maya shrieked, rushing over to her boyfriend.

Maddie laughed as she stirred up the gumbo. “Guys, when you said a New Orleans feast I didn’t mean taking one of everything from every restaurant in the city!” She pointed out.

“Look, Mads, you’re our family. And by extension, Amanda and her team are our family. It is important in the blending of two families to make sure you have something that everyone can agree on. Besides, it’s Mardi Gras, and we know that’s a huge party for you guys.” Kyle pointed out.

Becca and Maddie both made a face and looked at him. “I understood your metaphor, but you need to work on how you word it next time.” Becca laughed.

Hopping down the stairs, Jesse dawned what Amanda had picked out after a lot of research into New Orleans street style. She was wearing a white cotton dress with pink flowers and a denim jacket, as well as her favourite sandals. “Mama! I’m readyyyyy!” She giggled.

Turning to face the child, Maddie grinned. “Yes, you are baby! Did mommy pick that our for you?” She asked.

Jesse nodded emphatically. “You know I think I had something similar when I was your age. So did Auntie Maya.” Of course, it was different given the two were born in the late eighties, but she couldn’t help the small galavant down memory lane.

Jesse gasped before grinning. “Just like mama and Auntie Maya!” She giggled, running towards the kitchen.

♡♡♡

One after the next, Amanda and the squad appeared in the apartment. “Hey baby,” Amanda grinned as she slid up next to Maddie wrapping an arm around her waist. “Smells like Ms. Loretta’s in here.” She smiled.

“Well, Maya and I did learn a lot from her. Besides, they had to pull out all the stops tonight.” Maddie laughed, looking at her friends.

When Olivia, Barba and Noah showed up, Noah instantly ran to Jesse, showing off his own New Orleans street style outfit, again probably at Amanda’s request. “If they don’t end up together someday… I’ll be shocked.” Maddie smirked, looking over at Olivia.

“What smells so good?” Barba asked as the squad all made their way over to the kitchen island.

Maya sat the last dish of gumbo on the island with a grin. “Since we can’t bring all of you to New Orleans, what better way to welcome two families than to fill you full of food and alcohol and ship you off in Ubers.” She grinned.

“Two families,” Amanda nodded. “I love the sound of that.”

“Me too.” Maddie agreed, giving her fiancée a gentle kiss.

Of course, no one knew about the engagement; they were planning on announcing it during dinner, which made them both extremely nervous and excited. To keep the trained detectives off the trail, Amanda wore it on a long chain around her neck that she had from her grandfather.

Maya reached for the remote to the speaker system as Maddie helped move the dishes to the table, watching as nearly every open space was filled with food. “Maddie, que dites-vous que nous offrons à notre charmante famille un dîner familial classique à la Nouvelle-Orléans?” Maya smirked, turning on their current favourite Dr. John song.

In the South Land there's a city

Way down on the river

Where the women are very pretty

And all the men deliver

 

They got music

It's always playin'

Start in the day time, go all through the night

When you hear that music playin'

Hear what I'm saying, it make you feel alright

 

Grab somebody, come on down

Bring your paintbrush, we're paintin' the town

Honey, there's some sweetness goin' 'round

Catch it down in New Orleans

 

Maddie laughed as Maya danced over to her friend, taking her hands and spinning her around.

 

We got magic, good and bad

Make you happy or make you real sad

Get everything you want, lose what you had

Down here in New Orleans

 

Hey partner, don't be shy

Come on down here and give us a try

You wanna do some livin' before you die

Do it down in New Orleans

 

Dishing up the food, everyone’s plate was full by the time Maddie and Maya had made their way back over, laughing and singing along.

 

Stately homes and mansions

Of the Sugar Barons and the Cotton Kings

Rich people, poor people, all got dreams

Dreams do come true in New Orleans

 

As the two overdramatically, but very seriously and passionately belted out the last verse, their family gave them a round of applause.

“You know you two are without a doubt the strangest duo I have ever met.” Carisi chuckled, taking a bite of his gumbo.

Maddie rolled her eyes. “While that may be true, we have fun now don’t we Ms. Penley?” She smirked.

Maya laughed and nodded. “Hmmm that we do, Ms. Campbell.”

Aside from everyone barely talking, save for comments about how good the food was, the meal passed quickly, and drinks were being served. “Alright, we’ve got the iconic Sazerac, and we’ve also got Hurricanes.” Tyler and Kyle announced as they carried the drinks over. “And for the children, we have the classic, Shirley Temples.”

“You’re babysitting the hyperactive children; I hope you know that.” Olivia pointed out with a grin as she lifted a Hurricane off of the table.

Tyler and Kyle shared a look. “We got this. Uncles Ty and Ky are now and forever, the sugar crashers!” Tyler chuckled, taking a Sazerac for himself and Maya.

“I am not one to branch out when it comes to drinking,” Fin piped up, staring down into his Sazerac, “but damn these are good. You guys should open a restaurant.”

Maya and Maddie exchanged a glance and smiled sadly. Since Maddie and Amanda had returned from New Orleans, Ms. Loretta, the woman who along with with their parents had helped raise the girls, had passed away, leaving the girls the restaurant in her will.

“Did we miss something?” Carisi asked, raising a brow as he took a sip from his drink.

“Ms. Loretta left us her restaurant in her will… she wanted us to keep the spirit of New Orleans alive long after she was gone. Maya’s…” Maddie drew a breath, wiping the tears from her cheeks as Maya continued for her.

“Tyler and I are moving down to New Orleans to run the restaurant.” She smiled a little, taking Maddie’s hand.

Amanda pressed a kiss to Maddie’s temple as Tyler raised his glass. “To Ms. Loretta Costello, may she live on in our hearts, and in the food we eat.”

“To Ms. Loretta,” the group agreed, raising their glasses.

♡♡♡

After a few more drinks, and way too many beignets, Maddie stood up, drawing everyone’s attention so Amanda could slip the ring on her finger.

“So I have to admit, there is an ulterior motive to all of you being here.” Maddie grinned.

Carisi’s eyes widened a little. “This is how those murder mysteries start. She’s finally gonna kill us all!”

Throwing a beignet at him, Amanda also shot him a glare while everyone else laughed.

“After my case, when Amanda, Jesse and I all went down to New Orleans, we went to a friend on Maya and mine’s jazz club, The Black Fox,” she could feel Maya grin beside her, “I had him play Over the Rainbow, possibly the best jazz cover of all time… and he gave me a very overdramatic welcome,”

“A friend of yours? No way!” Barba teased.

“I will throw a beignet at you too, Counsellor.” Amanda threatened.

Maddie laughed and lifted Amanda off the couch. “Well… after that… I asked Amanda to marry me.” She grinned as Amanda held up her hand that now bore the engagement ring.

There was a collective gasp before everyone cheered and jumped up from their seats, walking towards the couple to give their congratulations.

Barba wrapped his arms around Maddie with a smile. “Felicidades pequeña hermana. Te mereces esto.” He congratulated her.

“Gracias, Rafi.” She mumbled with a grin.

The celebration lasted into the early hours of the morning with the kids crashing in Jesse’s room, and the rest of their company slowly making their way to the lobby where Maddie had three Ubers waiting for them.

“Maddie are you sure you don’t mind Noah…” Olivia began before Maddie shook her head.

“Of course not, I’ll text Lucy and let her know that he’s here okay? Go home and enjoy your kid-free night.” She smiled, giving her one last hug.

“And I expect texts from all of you when you get home!” She warned them all, moving back towards the door.

There was a chorus of groans before the three cars drove off into the night.

♡♡♡

The next morning, Maddie was surprised that wasn’t hungover, her fiancée, however, wasn’t having the same good morning.

“Hey baby, I ordered some food from Manhattan Diner, figured you might want something to help with your hangover.” Maddie laughed, sitting next to Amanda on the couch.

“You are an angel.” Amanda pushed herself into a sitting position and looked at the rather large bag Maddie’d brought over. “Did you order the whole restaurant?”

Maddie rolled her eyes, pulling out three boxes of food. “I got you the lumberjack breakfast; I got a chicken club sandwich and an order of mozzarella sticks to share.”

Leaning across the boxes, Amanda grabbed Maddie’s cheeks and kissed her with every bit of energy she had. “I love you, so much more right now.” She grinned, taking a mozzarella stick and biting into it.

Maddie happily returned the kiss and laughed softly. “Mmm is that because I brought you greasy diner food for your hangover? Or specifically the mozzarella sticks?”

“Both.”

“I’ll take it.” Maddie giggled, popping a french fry into her mouth.

Chapter Text

of all the things i still remember, summer’s never look the same. years go by and time just seems to fly, but the memories remain. in the middle of september, we’d still play out in the rain, nothing to lose but everything to gain. reflecting now on how things could’ve been, it was worth it in the end.

♡♡♡

Fin’s came; first, he was sitting at his desk, tapping the radio on the desk for a moment before setting his badge down on his desk and staring at it. “One PP, this is Odafin Tutuola, badge number three-one-nine-eight. This is my final message as a member of the NYPD, I just wanted to thank everyone for the craziest ride I’ve ever been on, and I appreciate all the opportunities I’ve been given. Once again, this is Odafin Tutuola, badge number three-one-eight-nine, and this is my final radio call.” Setting the radio down, Fin ran a hand over his face, looking up at the faces that had become familiar to him over the years. “I’m done…” He wasn’t quite sure what else to say, his mind racing with words that he should express but couldn’t at that moment. It was over for him; he could breathe.

Olivia was next, but this time One PP had a surprise for the next person to retire from SVU. “One PP, this is…” Olivia trailed off, looking out into the bullpen from her office. “This is Captain Olivia Benson, badge number four-zero-one-five. Today, after… fourty years in SVU, and nearly fifty-five years in the NYPD, I am making my final radio call. It has been an honour to serve not only the people of Manhattan but work amongst so many of the finest officers in New York. I repeat, Captain Olivia Benson of SVU, badge number four-zero-one-five has made her last radio call.”

There was a moment of pause, the entire squad room peering towards her office. Amanda was crying, Carisi and George were both grinning ear to ear, waiting with bated breath for the response from One Police Plaza.

“This is Junior Detective Noah Porter Benson, taking the final radio call for Captain Olivia Benson, badge number four-zero-one-five. You have worked so long and so hard to bring change and justice to so many people, mom. I’m proud to be your son and follow in your footsteps. Here’s to the rest of your life with dad, probably running away to somewhere warmer than Manhattan in the winters. I’m happy for you mom.” Noah smiled at the other end of the radio. “Also I know you’re crying because Uncle Sonny just sent me a video.” He teased with a chuckle.

“I love you too, Noah.” She laughed, wiping at her eyes.

♡♡♡

Life progressed normally for both Fin and Olivia, who now actually got to see each other and not have to talk about work. Amanda was SVU’s Captain, Carisi was the Lieutenant, and George had moved up to Sargeant. Noah, who’d enrolled in the police academy right out of high school had already become a Senior Detective, and Carisi’s son’s, and Maya and Tyler’s daughter were well on their way to being SVU Detectives as well.

About five years after Olivia retired, Amanda decided to step down from SVU. Maddie was spending more time at home, and Jesse and Gwen were planning both their wedding and starting a family.

Her call ended with Jesse and Billie, much like in the way Noah did.

“This is Captain Amanda Rollins, badge number zero-four-five-eight, giving my final radio message. It has been, an honour to serve alongside the finest officers in the NYPD and to have the opportunity to work in one of the best units I’ve ever had the pleasure of being apart of. I repeat, this is Amanda Rollins, badge number zero-four-five-eight, signing off for the last time.”

After a long moment of silence, Jesse’s voice came across the radio.

“Mom, you managed to balance a marriage, two kids and being in SVU like it was nothing. We are so proud of the work you’ve done, and we can’t wait to see you embark on your next chapter in life.” Jesse smiled, leaning against her younger sister.

Billie wiped at her eyes before she spoke. “You showed both of us how to fight for the change that we want to see in the world. The world had brought about so many changes and to be able to be apart of it because you instilled it into us when we were kids is one of the many reasons that we’re proud to be your daughters.”

Pausing as they tried to catch their breath from crying so much, the two sisters leaned back towards the radio. “Congratulations, mom, we love you.” They grinned.

Amanda, who’d been in stunned silence, crying freely as she listened to her daughters, managed to pull herself together just in time. “I love you too.”

♡♡♡

Once George retired the next generation came swooping in.

Noah Benson, Jacob and Oliver Carisi and Hannah King made up the new detectives. Jesse Rollins was the youngest ADA in SVU’s history, Billie Rollins was CEO of Campbell Worldwide and frequently assisted SVU on cases. Gwendolyn Pan-Rollins was a GP at New York-Presbyterian and had regularly served as the medic for the squad.

With the younger generation now on the front lines, their families went through the same fears their children had when it was them on the front lines. “Just be careful, okay?” Olivia asked, tucking her feet under her.

“I always am mom. I’ll talk to you later, okay? I love you.” Noah chuckled.

“I love you too, sweet boy.”

Across town, both Maddie and Amanda were in similar situations. “Billie promise me that you’ll call me if you need anything.” Maddie was pacing the room as she spoke to their youngest daughter.

“Mom, I went to work with you every day since I can remember. I finished Business School, and I’m a Rollins, there’s nothing we can’t do. I’ve got this.”

Jesse looked at her sister, both of them slowly making their way to the door in an attempt to escape before someone started to cry.

Amanda set her coffee cup down and rushed towards the front hall. “Wait! Jesse, I can’t help you if you have any questions but…”

“But Rafi can. I know, mom I have his number on my speed dial as I have since I was fifteen. We’re gonna be fine, but we have to go.”

Walking into the precinct with her sister, Jesse made her way over to Noah as Billie started talking with Hannah.

"Big world." Noah looked down at Jesse with a smile.

"Ours now." Jesse agreed, looking from him to the squad.

Chapter Text

can i exhale for a minute? can i get this out in the open? can i sit down for a second? can i breathe? can i exhale for a minute? can we talk it out? i don't get it, can i calm down for a moment? can i breathe for just one second?

♡♡♡

Work had been getting to all of them lately. The cases seemed to come in a neverending stream as they usually were, but something about this time left them all feeling empty.

They had just wrapped up a case, putting a serial abuser and rapist away for life, but not before two of his victims had committed suicide before testifying.

“Okay, guys…” Olivia’s voice broke through the heavy silence, “everyone go home, hug your families, take tomorrow off. I’ll see you all on Monday.” She announced, holding her bag and her coat on one arm as she shut the door to her now darkened office.

When the squad made no move to leave Olivia set her stuff down, walking over to where they sat. “I know, guys. I know, okay? But we have to keep going. This is when the fight gets hard, but we’ll get through it. So this time I’m not asking, I’m telling you. Go home and hug your families and don’t come in until Monday.”

This time, they all nodded, grabbing their bags, the four of them all heading to the elevator.

♡♡♡

When Olivia got home, she was greeted by an almost entirely dark apartment. The light above the stove created a soft glow throughout the main room.

Setting her things down and making sure the door was deadbolted and chained, Olivia made her way down the hall towards her son’s room.

Opening the door, she quietly made her way in and kissed the boy’s forehead. “Sleep well, my sweet boy.” She smiled, leaving the room and heading towards her bedroom.

Closing the door, Olivia leaned against it, hanging her head and letting her hair fall around her face. The tears that had been sitting just below the surface finally spilled over, dropping onto the carpet.

“Liv?” Came Rafael’s sleep-filled voice. Sitting up, the man ran a hand over his face and through his hair before turning on the lamp on the bedside table.

When Liv didn’t say anything, too afraid that she might start sobbing and wake up their son, she just shook her head.

Quickly getting out of bed, he came to stand in front of her. “Hey,” he prodded gently, cupping her cheeks and brushing away a few of her tears. “Liv, talk to me…” He was pleading now, his hands moving from her cheeks to her upper arms.

“I just need to breathe for a second.” She whispered.

Helping her to the bed, Rafael sat her down and slowly started to help her get out of work clothes. “Whenever you’re ready to talk, I’m here.” He assured her as he grabbed her pyjamas she’d worn the night before.

Slowly pulling them on, she sat back on the bed, her arms resting on her knees as she picked at her pale pink nail polish. “They were just kids… they were sixteen, Rafa.” She whispered.

“I know, mi amor. But you did everything you could to save those girls, you all did. And you put the bastard that did this to them behind bars.”

Rafael was sitting in front of her now, gingerly taking her hands. “What do you need, Liv?” He asked.

“Can I calm down for a moment?” She asked, moving forward to lean against Rafael, her head tucked under his chin.

Rafael leaned back against the headboard of their bed, holding Olivia in his arms as her tears fell against his skin. “Take all the time you need Liv.”

♡♡♡

Sonny had arrived home to find his fiancé up and making tea in the kitchen. Setting his bag down, he walked into the kitchen, wrapping his arms around the shorter man’s waist.

“I figured when you weren’t home for dinner, something was wrong.” Isaac turned his head to the side to look at Carisi.

“We couldn’t save them.” He mumbled, closing his eyes and drawing in a deep breath.

Isaac turned off the stove and gently pulled himself out of Sonny’s arms, leading the taller man towards the couch. “You had no way of knowing this would happen, and I know you’re blaming yourself, I can see it in your face. The people who did this to those girls, the people you helped catch are going to pay for what happened for the rest of their lives.” God willing they would suffer a horrible, painful prison sentence, or death, for what they did; but Isaac wasn’t about to voice that out loud.

“But maybe we could’ve…”

“Unfortunately, there may always be a “maybe we could have” moment, darling. But you saved five other girls who are going home to their families.” Isaac interrupted.

“Can I exhale for a minute?” Carisi lowered his head, elbows resting on his knees as he rubbed the back of his neck.

Isaac gave his leg a gentle squeeze, “I’ll be in the kitchen.”

♡♡♡

When Amanda got home, Maddie was laying on the couch, busy reading emails on her iPad, Jesse was in bed, and Billie was curled up in the bassinet next to the sofa after having woken up.

When the door shut, Maddie looked up from her spot on the couch. “Hey, baby… you’re home late, is everything okay?”

Amanda shook her head, walking over to sit on the couch next to her wife and daughters. “I…”

She wasn’t even able to get another word out before covering her face and sobbing.

Maddie dropped her iPad onto the couch and rushed towards Amanda, cradling her face. “Amanda… baby, what happened?” She asked gently.

“They… and we couldn’t… and I can’t…” Amanda sobbed, burying her face into Maddie’s shoulder.

Maddie held tighter, her heart breaking for her wife. “I’m so sorry.” She whispered.

They remained standing, holding each other for a while until Amanda had stopped crying. “I’m sorry, I should be used to cases like this, but I guess not…”

“Baby, you don’t have to apologize, and you definitely shouldn’t get used to something like this.” Maddie shook her head. “And you don’t have to do this alone; I’m here for you. You know that you can talk to me about anything.”

Sitting on the couch, Amanda looked over at their youngest daughter. “I’m trying to keep a sense of who I am… or who I was when I started this job, but I feel like it’s all, mixed up in my head.”

“I’m not going to tell you what to do, that’s not my place. But whatever you choose to do, I’m gonna be with you until the end of the line.” Maddie assured her.

“Promise?”

“Always.”

Chapter Text

tears on my face i can’t take it, if lonely’s a taste then it’s all that i’m tasting. do you hear me cry? i cry. / take me from the dark, from the dark i ain’t gonna make it myself. put your arms around me, put your arms around me. let your love surround me, i am lost. i am lost.

♡♡♡

All that Jesse could feel was a sharp pain in the side of her neck as she woke up. Maybe she just slept wrong, but the room was still dark. What the hell time was it?

Looking around as her eyes adjusted, she saw Noah. Okay, that raised several red flags.

“Noah?” She tried to move over to him but was stopped by a chain on her ankle. “No, no, no. Noah wake up!”

Her raising her voice seemed to do the trick, as he jolted awake on the floor. “What the hell? Where the hell are we?” He groaned.

“I don’t know, but I can’t get to you, I’m chained to something.” She could feel her panic rising now as she continued to struggle against the cold metal on her ankle.

“How did we get here? Hello?! Is anyone there?” Noah called out, moving closer to Jesse, thankful that he could make it to her even with his cuff.

A door on the far side of the room opened, the light illuminating a figure prominent enough almost to fill said doorway. “Noah Porter Benson… or is it Barba? You know your mother is great, but she could have at least given you the option to change your name. You were only what? Eight when they got married?”

Noah didn’t say anything; he just held tighter to his best friend, who had started shaking in his arms.

“And you, Ms. Jesse Rollins. Youngest ADA Manhattan has seen in, well I don’t know the specifics. Your mother, Amanda that is, is a lucky woman. Maddie Campbell was the number one “Most Eligible Bachelorette” since she was twenty-one. I mean, come on, she’s rich, she’s hot. Hell, I’m kinda jealous of Amanda.” The figure continued as he stalked towards the two.

“What the hell do you want with us?” Noah asked.

The man chuckled, crouching down in front of them. “Years ago, when you were just kids, your parents locked my son up for a crime that he didn’t commit. He was innocent, and when I went to visit him in prison, they told me that he’d been killed. They got the guys who did it, they tortured him, beat him, and then killed him, because your parents put him in there! So now they’re going to know how it feels to have their children taken from them, tortured and killed.” He sneered.

Jesse was crying now, doing her best not to show the man who’d taken them, hostage, that she was weak. Even if all she wanted to do was curl into a ball and cry until she had no tears left.

“They’re going to find us, our squad and our families and when they do you’ll be sorry.” Noah moved Jesse behind him and swung at the man, landing a fist into his jaw.

The man recoiled from the blow before reaching for something in his pocket. Pulling out a set of keys, he undid Noah’s ankle cuff and pulled him up. “You want to fight with me? Go ahead. Show your girl just how much of a man you are!”

Jesse watched Noah’s hands clench into fists. “Noah, don’t do this. This is exactly what he wants. Don’t give him what he wants!”

All Noah could see was red as he started to swing, going after the guy with everything he had in him. “You son of a bitch! Do you think you’re gonna get away with this? The Captain and the ADA of SVU?”

Chuckling even as Noah went at him, the man quickly pulled out a switchblade and slashed Noah across the stomach. Stumbling back, the man went at him, effectively knocking him out quite quickly.

“Noah!” Jesse cried out, scrambling to her feet and taking a few steps before her chain stopped and she tripped. “Please just let us go!”

“Looks like you’re gonna have to learn a lesson, Captain Benson.” Without another word, the man dragged Noah from the room with Jesse screaming and pleading for her friend.

♡♡♡

“Alright, what have we got?” Hannah asked, walking into the bullpen.

Billie looked up from her tablet. “I pinged their cell phones trying to figure out if maybe we got lucky enough they’d still have their phones. Last known location was right before the Brooklyn Bridge. Whoever has them probably threw their phones into the East River.” She frowned. “I’ve been looking through street cams, security cams, anything looking for even a glimpse but I can’t…”

Covering her mouth, Billie’s slender frame started to shake as she cried. “Someone has my sister, and my fiancé and I can’t find them!”

Isaac moved over to the youngest Rollins, pulling her into his arms. “We’re gonna find them, B. I know we will.” He assured her.

When the bullpen fell eerily silent, the squad turned to see their family standing in the doorway. “Hey guys, thanks for coming in.” Oliver walked over to them, gesturing them towards the interview room.

“Alvarez!” Hannah turned on her heel towards the uniformed officer. “The FBI is on their way, bring them up to speed when they get here.” She nodded before clearing her throat. “Attention everyone!” She called out. “There are going to be reporters calling, and they’ll be parked outside with cameras and news vans. You are not allowed to talk to them under any circumstances! Anyone who does so will have to answer to me, and I can assure you I will not go easy on you! Do you understand me?”

“Yes, ma’am!” The sea of officers of the sixteenth precinct answered.

Walking into the interview room, Maddie looked up from her and Amanda’s joined hands in her lap. “You get that from your mother, you know.” She smiled softly.

Hannah laughed a little before shaking her head, leaning against the wall. “We’re gonna get them back; I promise you guys. But we’re gonna need your help, and it’s gonna be a long night, but that’s why B’s here.”

“What do you need from us?” Rafael asked, his voice thick with emotion.

“A list of all the cases you worked from the time Uncle Rafi started to the time Aunt Liv retired.”

♡♡♡

Who knows how many days it had been? The whole building was dark; everything echoed and creaked in a way that didn’t sit well with either of them.

They’d been unchained since the man, now known as David had brought Noah back what felt like an eternity after he’d been challenged that first day.

Jesse barely slept, only after she’d been awake for too long did she allow herself to succumb to the pull of sleep. One night after she woke up, she looked at Noah, her eyes dark and lifeless like he’d never seen before.

”Do you think they're going to be able to find us?” Jesse asked quietly, taking the last sip of her water.

Noah nodded slowly, looking over at his friend with a tired smile. ”Yeah, J. I know they will.”

It sounded far away, but they both swore they heard sirens in the distance. Before either of them could say anything, David burst through the door, grabbing Jesse and put a gun to her head.

”You two are coming with me. Now!” He shouted and pulled Jesse towards the exit.

As the three of them made their way outside, Jesse and Noah were blinded by the headlights of the police vehicles. “Come any closer, and I’ll blow her head off!” He shouted.

“We don’t want you to do that, Mr. Green.” Jesse immediately recognized Hannah’s voice. “Look; we know what happened to your son, and we are very sorry that it happened. But you know what it’s like to lose a child, and you know that it’s something that no parent wants to go through, so don’t put their parents through this.” She pleaded, gun still raised.

David clenched his jaw and Jesse could hear the safety click and closed her eyes. Before the gun could even go off, Jesse was falling face first towards the ground while Noah wrestled David to the ground.

“Jesse!” Jacob shouted, rushing towards her. Getting her up off the dusty ground, Oliver and Hannah ran to help Noah, cuffing David who’d effectively been subdued by the Captain.

Standing up, Noah made his way towards Jesse, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close. “We’re free…” He smiled, looking up when two more vehicles pulled into the lot.

“Jesse!” Gwen shouted, slamming the car door shut.

“Noah!” Billie smiled, the two women taking off towards them.

Stepping apart, Jesse and Noah each hugged their wife and fiancé, respectfully, before Billie looked at her sister.

“I tried to find you sooner, J; I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” She cried, wrapping her arms around her big sister.

“It’s okay B, you found us now, and that’s all that matters.” Jesse smiled, her hand resting on the back of Billie’s head. “Take care of him, okay? Please, B.”

Billie stepped back from her sister, nodding as she waved the paramedics over. “I promise, but first both of you are going to the hospital.”

As Jesse was loaded onto a stretcher, Gwen climbed in behind her. “You are not allowed to leave the house for at least a week.”

Jesse nodded slowly, looking over at Noah who was being loaded into the other ambulance with Billie. “Can you call our parents?” She asked, feeling a warm wave wash over her as the paramedics hooked her up to a morphine drip.

“Yeah baby, I’ll call okay? Just get some rest.” Gwen smiled softly, holding her wife’s hand as the ambulance drove off into the night.

♡♡♡

“We got him. David Green married his high school sweetheart when he was twenty-one, and she was twenty. He was nineteen when his son Lyle Green was born; his girlfriend was eighteen. Now, his son was a good student, involved in sports and student council; overall, he was a good guy.” Hannah pulled up his photo on the TV.

Jacob pushed himself off the wall he was leaning against. “Lyle was brought in when he was nineteen on three separate rape charges of girls at a frat party at Hudson.” He added.

“He was found guilty on all three counts and sentenced to twenty years in Rykers. But, he only served five months of his sentence before he was beaten, tortured and killed by one of the gangs.” Rafael looked at the kids in front of them. “Remember, David came back and told us all that we would pay for what happened. This is how he’s making us pay. Taking our kids away, he’s probably…” He trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence.

“But why just J and Noah? Why not take B? Or all of us?” Oliver asked.

Olivia sat up in her chair. “Because I was in charge of SVU and Rafa was our ADA. He couldn’t take it out on us, and look who stepped into our places.”

Both Jesse and Noah were being kept overnight under observation, the doctors giving them a shared room so they could see their families. “You look like crap.” Jesse looked over at Noah with a smirk.

“Oh because you look like a million bucks right now.” He rolled his eyes. “Hey… what’s gonna happen with David?”

“Lawson will probably get him to take a plea deal. They’ll drop it to a third-degree kidnapping charge he’ll serve five to ten years in NYU Langone Medical Center.” Jesse explained as she sat up in her bed.

Amanda shook her head. “Hell no. He took you guys, kept you in the Grain Terminal for four days! He is not getting a deal. Why would Lawson even think about doing that?”

“Because it’s what J would do.” Noah looked at Amanda with a smile. “No matter what happened to us, we’ll heal. He lost a child, no matter how much of a monster Lyle was, his father was grieving and didn’t get help. Now he has a chance to get the help he needs.”

While the younger squad agreed with Noah and Jesse, it was clear their parents were still wary. “Look, we know this isn’t the way you would do it but we have to do what we think is best for our squad, just like you guys always did.” Hannah pointed out.

“Alright, we give up, you guys know what you’re doing, and we have to trust that.” Rafael nodded. “Why don’t we let you two get some rest?” He offered as they started to file out of the room after saying their goodbyes.

Noah looked over at Jesse once they were sure they were alone. “Why didn’t you tell them?”

“Because if I tell them, then David won’t get the help he needs.” Jesse rolled onto her side to face him.

“Eventually you’re gonna have to tell them. You know that, right?”

“I know, but Gwen and I only went to the doctor a month ago and then with all this… it’s just not the right time.” She sighed.

Noah rolled his eyes. “Yeah but J…”

“Will you please drop it? Just for now? And don’t mention it to them, please? You’re the only one who knows I’m pregnant.”

Chapter Text

i wake in the night, i pace like a ghost. the room is on fire, invisible smoke. and all of my heroes die all alone, help me hold on to you. i’ve been the archer, i’ve been the prey. screaming, who could ever leave me darling, but who could stay?

♡♡♡

After Jesse and Noah were discharged from the hospital, they went back to the precinct, against their families wishes and met with David.

Sitting across from him, the two remained as far from him as possible. “Hi, David.” Jesse smiled softly.

“Ms. Rollins, Captain Benson, it’s good to see you. You can get me out of here, right?” He asked, leaning against the table.

Noah shook his head. “You know we can’t do that, David. But we are going to make sure that you get the help you need, okay? I promise we’re going to do everything we can to help you.”

Getting up, Jesse knocked on the glass and Lawson walked in with David’s attorney. “We’re going to make you a deal, Mr. Green. You plead guilty for wrongful imprisonment in exchange for eight years at NYU Langone Medical.” Lawson looked from David to his attorney.

“I’ll take the deal. Thank you, Ms. Rollins, Captain.”

“Please, it’s Jesse and Noah.” Noah smiled, walking over to the man and giving him a pat on the back.

Jesse followed behind Noah, holding out her hand for him to shake, but he pulled both of them in for a hug. “Thank you so much.”

The younger two laughed and hugged him back. “Take care, David. We’ll be checking up on you, and we want to hear good things.” Jesse smiled as two uniformed officers lead him out of the room.

Walking back into Noah’s office, the elder shut both doors, sitting at his desk. “Are we still doing the barbecue?”

Jesse nodded. “Yeah, I overheard our parents talking about it this morning. Now it’s a celebratory thing you know? Hey, you two didn’t end up dead so let’s have a party.”

Noah let out a halfhearted chuckle as he leaned back in his chair. “I feel like we don’t tell everyone how we feel enough. When we were stuck in the grain mill, all I could think about was the last thing that I said to everyone. I’m pretty sure the last thing I told Jake and Oli was that they were acting like idiots.”

“Noah they were shooting spitballs at each other.” Jesse pointed out with a laugh before Noah gave her a look. “I get it; I think the last thing I said to Gwen was that she shouldn’t be too hard on the interns. Not even an I love you.” She sighed. “Well, shall we go to my apartment and show everyone we’re still alive?”

Standing up, Noah laughed and held his elbow out for her. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

♡♡♡

The two had arrived at Jesse’s childhood home to find the entire squad, new and old, and all of her aunt’s, uncles and cousins from Maddie’s side at the house.

“Auntie Bex? They managed to drag you out of Europe?” Jesse laughed, hugging her.

“We’ve all been here for a couple of days. The only thing that could make me leave Europe is you and your sister, J.” Becca smiled softly. “I’m glad you’re okay, both of you.”

Maddie walked over to her daughter, kissing the side of her head. “We all are, and it’s nice to know that your mother and I take a backseat for you two.” She laughed.

Jesse rolled her eyes and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. “Don’t be jealous, mama. You’re always gonna be my hero. And I’m glad everyone’s here, I’d like to make an announcement.”

Noah looked up from the pile of food on his plate with a grin as Jesse took Gwen’s hand. “You know, being in the grain mill listening to nothing but creaking metal and what I’m pretty sure were ghosts; well that and Noah’s snoring,” she teased her friend. “There was one thing that kept me going aside from getting back to all of you, it was something that Gwen and I have been talking about for years, but only recently did we consider it for real.”

“Wait…” Gwen looked up at Jesse with a smile. “Are you saying?”

“I’m pregnant.” Jesse nodded, lifting Gwen off the floor to spin her around.

The house was silent before they erupted into cheers, Noah got up and jogged over to Jesse, wrapping his arms around her. “I’m so happy for you, J.” He mumbled, kissing her forehead.

“How long have you known?! You ass, you kept this from me I’m your sister!” Billie smacked Jesse on the arm as she hugged her and Gwen.

After going through the congratulations, Jesse was pulled into the kitchen by her parents, Olivia, Rafael and Noah. “There’s no way you just found out about the fact that you’re pregnant and you’re still going to let David off with the plea deal?” Amanda was doing her best to yell while keeping her voice at a whisper.

“Because I knew that you would react like this, and then David wouldn’t get the help he needs! You didn’t see him this morning, he thanked us, and hugged us!” Jesse shot back.

Olivia looked at her son. “You let him hug the two of you? Are you out of your minds?!”

“He is a human being! Who lost his way after his son was killed, and you know what happened after that? His wife was killed in a car accident. He had nothing left, and he snapped!” Noah bellowed, not caring if everyone else heard anymore.

Rafael scoffed and rolled his eyes. “You can’t be serious. You honestly think that he’s just a damaged man?”

Jesse slammed her hands down on the counter. "You don't get to tell us what to do! This is our squad now and if you don't like it then feel free to leave now!"

Without saying another word, Jesse walked up the stairs to hers and Gwen's room, slamming the door.

♡♡♡

It had been three months since Jesse and Noah were kidnapped, and life had progressed somewhat regularly. Jesse was four months pregnant and still working her way through countless trials for SVU. Noah had returned to work the Monday after they’d been rescued, but still let Hannah run things until he felt ready. Gwen had made countless visits to David and NYU Langone without telling Jesse or Noah, making sure that he was getting the help that he needed.

The only problem they had was that Jesse was a different person, and everyone noticed it. They were walking on eggshells around her, trying to make sure that they didn’t set her off.

When Gwen had reached her breaking point, she met up with Noah outside the courthouse after a case. “We need to talk.” She smiled, doing her best to make sure that even if Jesse could see them, she couldn’t hear them.

“This whole thing, she’s… she’s a different person.” Gwen sighed quietly.

Noah tipped his head to the side, chancing a glance towards Jesse. “You’re worried about her?”

“She’s missing now. There but not there, you know?”

“Is she sleeping?” He asked.

“Doesn’t look like it. We’re never even in the house at the same time. She’s gone to work when I get home and when I get up. She gave up working out; she’s not eating nearly enough. She’s carrying our baby, and she’s not eating, Noah.” Gwen sighed, looking at Jesse and waving when they made eye contact. “You need to talk to her.”

Noah sighed as Jesse finished her interview, said goodbye to the victim who’s case they’d just won. "Alright, I'll talk to her, but I can't promise anything."

When Jesse walked over to Noah, Gwen had gone back to work, leaving the blonde confused. "Where's Gwennie?" She asked.

"She had to go back to work; she just wanted to check up on you." Noah smiled, wrapping his arm, around her shoulders. "Listen, J; we're worried about you. All of us, but especially your wife. You're pregnant, and you're not taking care of yourself, look I know that we went through hell in that grain mill, but what happened when he took you into the room? What did he do to you?"

Jesse stopped walking, stepping away from Noah's grasp. "Cameras are watching; you know how much they love to print up stories about how we're sleeping with each other."

She couldn't count the number of times she'd seen photos of herself and Noah on tabloid covers much in the same way she'd seen her mother's when she was younger. "He didn't do anything to me, Noah."

"Jesse..."

"He didn't. If he had do you think that I'd willingly send him to Langone?" She asked. "The only thing he did to me was, he had me listen to him torture you, and even after that, you're fine." Jesse stopped walking, looking up at Noah. "And I'm trying so hard to be okay because I have a wife and I'm pregnant, and our job needs us to keep going, but I just want to shut everything off for a minute."

Noah wrapped his arms around Jesse, holding her as close to him as possible. "I've got you, J. We're in this together okay, but you need to take care of yourself." He rested his forehead on the top of her head. "Since day one, J. Always."

Jesse, in turn, wrapped her arms around Noah, letting out a shaky breath. For the first time in four months, she finally felt like she could breathe, and that no matter what they would all be okay. "Since day one."

Chapter Text

i get robbed of all my sleep, as my thoughts begin to bleed. i’d let go, but i don’t know how. yeah, i don’t know how but i need to now. / can you hear me sos? help me put my mind to rest.

♡♡♡

A large part of what they did, involved loss. Be it someone else's or their own.

That’s the job.

“It’s always been the job.” He spoke casually as he took a sip of scotch.

“It shouldn’t have to be; we don’t deserve to watch our family die. We don’t deserve to…” she began, but he cut her off.

“But don’t we? I mean; what have we done? Some so many families lost people because we either couldn’t save them or couldn’t get them justice. Are we the good guys here?”

The rest of their group walked over, sitting around the pair as they all grieved the loss in their way. “Noah, c’mon… you know we’re the good guys. Maybe you can’t see it right now, but it’s true. And your mom…” Jesse paused. “Your mom would be so proud of you. She is so proud of you.”

Jacob placed a hand on Noah’s shoulder, his free hand taking ahold of Hannah’s. “And you’re not alone; we’re all here for you. Always.”

Noah finally snapped, tears spilling from his eyes as the group wrapped their arms around him.

Jesse, who’d been doing her best to hold herself together, broke when she saw Noah crying. She’d known him since she was born, it was always them against the world, but not once did she ever see him like this. “We’ve got you. Since day one.” She promised, holding up her pinky to him.

Locking his pinky with her’s, Noah nodded. “I appreciate it, guys. More than I can say.”

♡♡♡

Time went by, and Noah seemed to be pulling himself out of the dark abyss he’d been in. But Rafael fell deeper into the darkness with each passing day.

“Rafi, Rafi look at me!” Maddie grabbed his arm, pulling him back towards her and Amanda.

Rafael jerked his arm away, turning on his heel as his face turned red. “I’m tired of listening to everyone! I lost Olivia! The only person who loved me no matter what happened! When I quit, when I told her about my past, all of it!” He bellowed. “So I’m sorry if I’m not grieving the way you all want me to, but I lost the woman that I love and the only person who ever gave a damn about me!”

Maddie’s hands clenched and unclenched a few times as he spoke, before slamming her hands against his chest. “Screw you, Rafael! She wasn’t the only one who loved you, she’s not the only one who cared, but how would you know? Noah lost his mother, and the one’s keeping him together are our daughters  because you weren’t here! We all lost her, Rafi! It’s not the same, but we’re grieving too! Don’t tell me that she’s the only one who cared because I wouldn’t have been here almost every fucking day  if I didn’t give a damn about you!”

Maddie was crying now, repeatedly hitting him in the chest, even as Amanda tried to pull her back. “Maddie, baby… stop. Please.” Amanda tried, but the pleas fell on deaf ears.

Realizing that he couldn’t stop her from hitting him without either of them getting hurt, Rafael started backing away, his eyes filled with tears as Maddie fell into Amanda’s arms. “Mads, I didn’t mean…”

A knock on the door drew everyone’s attention, and Rafael walked over to get it. Pulling the door open, he was shocked to see Noah, Jesse and Billie standing there, each holding a dish of food. “Hey, guys… what are you doing here? I thought umm… I thought you caught a case.”

“Hey, dad.” Noah smiled, walking inside. “We did, but we also figured that you hadn’t eaten, so we brought over dinner…” he looked between himself and the girls, “for about two weeks.” He turned to look at Maddie and Amanda. “Are you guys staying for dinner?”

Maddie shook her head, looking from Noah to her daughters. “No, actually we just stopped by to check on Rafi.” She shook her head.

“Are you sure? You can stay if you want.” Rafael offered, looking between Maddie and Amanda.

Amanda took Maddie’s hand. “We have dinner plans with Maya and Tyler actually, so just give us a call later if you want to chat, Barba.” She gave a tight-lipped smile before heading out the door with Maddie, saying goodbye to the kids on their way.

As soon as the door shut, the three kids turned to Rafael. “Why do I get the feeling mom isn’t pleased with you right now?” Billie asked.

“Because, contrary to what I portray, I am an ass,” he turned to his son. “I’m sorry that I haven’t been there for you, Noah. I know you lost your mother and I… well I haven’t been much help.”

Noah shook his head, setting his dish down on the end table before hugging his dad. “It’s okay, dad. I know that you have your grief to deal with.” He smiled, following his fiancé and best friend into the kitchen to get dinner going.

♡♡♡

“How’re you holding up, ‘Manda?” Maya asked, joining the woman on the roof.

“It still feels weird… you know when I started at SVU, it was like she was this beacon of light. Everything she did to help not only the victims but all of us, while moving up the ranks and raising Noah? A force to be reckoned with that one.” She laughed sadly, her voice cracking as she covered her face with her hand. “I still can’t believe she’s gone.”

Maya wrapped her arms around Amanda, her heart aching for the woman.

Inside the house, Maddie was sitting in the middle of the couch; knees pulled to her chest as her chin rested atop them. “Do you remember when we all met Liv?” She asked, looking over at Tyler.

He nodded, a small smile on his face. “She was determined to figure out what happened to you. Almost immediately I knew she was some kind of… miracle worker sent to help you heal from what happened.”

Moving closer to Maddie, Tyler wrapped his arms around her. “She’s watching over us right now, you know? Probably yelling at us for being so caught up in our grief and fighting with each other.”

Maddie couldn’t help but laugh as tears slipped down her face. “Why are you sitting around crying? You should be carrying on my legacy; I didn’t do all this for all of you to sit around and cry.” She shook her head before sitting up.

“What? Mads, what’s wrong?” He asked.

“Nothing, but we need to call Rafi and the kids.”

Tyler raised an eyebrow, pulling out his phone and sending a text to the rather large group chat they had.

Feeling her phone buzz, Amanda pulled her phone out and looked at the text before showing Maya. “I wonder what she’s up to now.”

Heading downstairs to the office, the two women were met with Tyler and Maddie scribbling things down on the whiteboards that covered one of the walls.

“What’s going on?” Amanda asked, looking between Maddie’s handwriting and Tyler’s sketches of what looked like an office building.

“We have to wait for the kids and Rafi to get here before we can tell you anything.”

♡♡♡

It wasn’t long before everyone was standing in the room staring at the now covered whiteboard.

“Okay, I think we’re all dying to know what’s going on.” Billie looked between her mom and Uncle Tyler.

“Well, this is all… all a hypothetical. It depends on what Rafi and Noah think.” Maddie pointed out, nodding to Tyler, who got ready to uncover the board. “May we present to you, The Olivia Benson Foundation.” She stepped to the side. “Partnering with Campbell Worldwide, the Foundation would provide counselling to victims, and team up with police and government agencies around the world to help victims of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence.”

Noah broke out into a smile, moving through his family to wrap his arms around Maddie. “I love it; this is the perfect way to honour mom’s memory and the work she did with SVU. What do you think, dad?” He asked, turning to look at his father.

Rafael was smiling as tears streamed down his cheeks. “I don’t know what to say. This is… incredible. When did you think of all of this?” He asked, his voice hoarse as he tried to stop crying.

“About half an hour ago. I’m tired of crying and wondering what to do, and Tyler helped. He said she’d be yelling at all of us for fighting with each other and being so caught up in our grief.” Maddie looked over at Tyler and smiled. “And he’s right. So I figured, if you two agreed to this, maybe we could make a big difference and not let her memory die.” She paused. “So what do you say?”

Everyone turned to look at Rafael, who was nodding. “I think it’s perfect, Mads. Let’s do it.” He smiled.

The room quickly erupted into cheers as everyone hugged and moved to get a closer look at the plans.

Rafael put an arm around Maddie’s shoulders, gently steering her out of the room while everyone was still looking at the boards. “I’m sorry about earlier… for what I said and…”

“Don’t be. I knew you needed to grieve, but it just broke my heart, and then when you said no one cared about you, I just got so mad. It wasn’t fair to you.” She shook her head.

“Call it even?” He asked, raising a brow.

“Deal.”

Laughing, he turned around and looked at everyone in the room. “This is amazing. Thank you, Mads, for honouring Olivia’s memory like this.”

“Of course, Rafi. Now, let’s go make her proud.”

Chapter Text

hey, it’s all me, in my head. i’m the one who burned us down, but it’s not, what i meant, sorry that i hurt you. i don’t wanna do, i don’t wanna do this to you. i don’t wanna lose, i don’t wanna lose this with you. i need to say hey, it’s all me, just don’t go. meet me in the afterglow.

♡♡♡

Whatever was between them had been coming to a head for quite some time. They were always fighting lately, over the smallest things, all of them snowballing into something that the squad had been dreading.

Maddie and Isaac had come by the precinct to have dinner with everyone since it was the only way they’d be having dinner with their spouses lately, but they hadn’t realized they were walking into a warzone.

“Hey, Fin, you wanna have dinner with us?” Isaac asked, holding up the bag of Chinese food.

Looking over his shoulder into Olivia’s office, he watched her and Barba for a moment as they continued arguing. “Yeah sure, beats being close enough to get hit if something flies through the window.” He chuckled.

“Hey, maybe you could charge them with assaulting a police officer. That would get them to stop.” Maddie chimed in as she held out the box of rice.

Laughing, Fin took the box and dished up some rice onto one of the plates. “Been a while since they’ve argued like this.” The five of them cautioned a look back at the office.

When the door finally flew open, Barba storming out with Liv close on his heels, both red in the face the precinct quickly went silent. “I’m not going to do something that could risk my career, Lieutenant.” He sneered, whipping around when they were closer to the doors.

“Oh please, you think anything that you don’t want to do, is going to risk your career! So if you “can’t,”” she put that in air quotes, “do it then find me an ADA that will!”

“So, you want me out then?” He shot back, they both knew that he meant more than just as the unit’s ADA.

Though they pretended to be focused on their hushed conversation, the five eating shared a look, wondering what Liv would say as the question hang in the air.

Liv considered the weight of her answer, a lump in her throat and tears burning her brown eyes. “I want you out.”

“Fine, I’ll put in for a new ADA, maybe now I can focus on something other than your unit’s needs.” He gave a curt nod, turning on his heel and walking out the door.

♡♡♡

It was nearly four hours later when Fin dropped Olivia off at her apartment. She’d left shortly after Barba, but ended up at the bar drinking glass after glass, which turned into a whole bottle of wine. Despite giving her water between each drink, Leo, the bartender, grabbed her phone and called the Sergeant.

“You gonna be okay to get up there?” He asked.

Olivia nodded, taking a deep breath. “Yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine.”

“If he’s still there, try talking to him. And take tomorrow off, we can hold down the fort.” He told her.

“Thanks, Fin.” She smiled and walked inside.

Opening the door to her apartment, she was greeted by the stomach-churning sight of Barba moving quietly around the apartment, packing up his suitcases.

Closing the door and hanging up her coat, Olivia walked over to him slowly. “Rafa, can we talk?” She asked softly.

“I’m pretty sure you said everything you needed to say. Don’t worry; I didn’t tell Noah about any of this. I figured you’d want to tell him I was on a trip, or that in the end, it’ll just be the two of you.” He muttered, furiously trying to fold a hooded sweatshirt.

Carefully, Olivia put her hands on his, taking the sweatshirt and throwing it over the back of the couch. “Raf, please? I need to talk to you. I was wrong to try and say that you didn’t want to do something just because you didn’t want to. That wasn’t fair. I know that it would be risky, but I was just focused on getting justice for the victim, I wasn’t thinking.” She mumbled. “I don’t want another ADA, and I don’t want to come home to an empty apartment, I want you, even if it means I don’t get to ask you to risk your career.” She attempted a joke with a small laugh. 

Rafael allowed himself to laugh a little, letting go of the ties in his hands. “I won’t say that when you told me you wanted me out, I wasn’t crushed. Everything I’d ever wanted for myself seemed to disappear when I started in SVU, and when we started dating. The political future I’d been working towards didn’t matter because, for once, I had everything I ever could have dreamed of. I know that I said some things in your office that I wish I could take back, but loving you, loving your son, loving our little chosen family, those things aren’t on that list.

He’d somehow moved closer to her, taking advantage of the fact that he was in his shoes, and she was in socked feet. Placing a gentle kiss to her forehead, the tears of panic, of fear that he might lose her, finally started to fall.

Olivia could feel his tears hitting her cheeks, and she was sure that she was crying now too. “I’m so sorry, Rafael, I never want you to doubt that I love you and that you have a place in this family.” She whispered, her voice full of emotion. “I never want you to forget what you mean to all of us.

“Does this mean I should text Maddie and tell her I don’t need to stay in her spare room?” He asked, smirking as he started pulling her along towards the bedroom.

Reaching up, she kissed him with everything she had, only pulling away when they needed air. “Does that answer your question?

“Quite sufficiently.” He smirked, carefully kicking the door shut.