Author's Note: SURPRISE! So I lied. It's not quite the end for these two. Just when I thought I was done, this story demanded an epilogue. So, yeah, here we go, something fairly light and fluffy. Any recognizable dialogue isn't mine.


A few months later

Who could refrain who had a heart to love

and in that heart courage to make love known?

-William Shakespeare

After a long and lonely winter, at last the sun is shining and the flowers are growing again.

"What is that smell?" Rollins sniffs as she walks into Liv's apartment. "Whatever it is, it smells incredible."

"Ropa vieja." She responds, with a smile. A smile that actually reaches her eyes this time. "It's a Cuban recipe."

"And if it's done right, it's a piece of Heaven." Amaro grins. "And my mother's is the best."

"I disagree, detective. My abuelita is the only one who can properly make this dish." Responds Barba, always willing to disagree with Nick. If only on principle.

"Counselor, you're so full of..."

"Boys, boys, you're both pretty." Grins Rollins as she puts up her hands to stop the budding disagreement between the two men who never really had seen eye to eye on many things.

"Yeah, because that's just we need right overdose of testosterone." Liv rolls her eyes. "Fin, could you open the wine, please?

"Sure thing, Liv." Fin grins and pours the cabernet. Barba passes, he's got his scotch, his own comfort food.

"Mmmm. That really smells good, counselor." Rollins compliments the thorny ADA.

"Appreciate that, Rollins. You can thank my abuelita. The recipe is hers."

"But the work is yours." Liv smiles, gently placing a hand on Barba's back. And he gives her a slow, sweet smile.

Well, I'll be damned, Rollins thinks, I didn't see that comin'. But I guess it kinda makes sense...kinda...

She pretends to ignore the exchange and simply sips on her wine, smiling a little.

If Liv's happy, that's all that matters, right?


"I just want to say something." Liv says, as they're seated around the table. "I'm sorry the Captain couldn't be here tonight because what I want to say is for him too. I just want to thank you all...for everything these past few months. I know all of this..." she gestures, glass of wine in hand, "with Lewis has been difficult on all you."

"S'ok, Liv. You don't need to thank us. We got your back." Rollins smiles.

Benson is so fucking strong. If anyone can come back from something like this, she can. She's a goddamn warrior.

"I know but it's appreciated all the same." Liv smiles. "Thank you." Raising her glass of wine, she nods at all of them.

"Cheers. Now eat."


The verdict's in. Barba's ropa vieja is spectacular. Even Nick admits with a grumble that it isn't half bad and his mother would find it acceptable. "Is that on the record, detective?" Barba's eyes twinkle as he gives him a half smile.

"Sure. Why the hell not? Hers is still the best." Nick can't resist one last jab.

"Seriously, though, nice work, counselor." And he's not just referring to the food.

"Yes, counselor, thank you." Rollins adds.

"It wasn't me. It was Liv. She deserves the majority of the credit." Barba tips his head towards Benson who's laughing at a joke Fin's told her. "I just brought it home." He says quietly, his eyes fixed on her.

"You care about her, don't you, counselor?"

Nick hasn't not missed the small exchanges between them when they think no one's watching. And he doesn't feel like beating around the bush.

"You hurt her, I'll kick your ass."

"Stick to things you actually know something about, detective." Barba snaps sharply.

And mind your goddamned business.

Nick wants to snap back but for Liv's sake (and politeness' sake) he refrains.

But he keeps watching.

And doesn't miss the softness in Liv's gaze when she looks at Barba, the grin he gives her at an unspoken's all very professional, of course, and civil and had they not all been detectives, nobody probably would have picked up on anything at all.

But this is the 1-6 after all. And they're used to looking beneath the surface.


"We didn't fool them at all." Barba sighs resignedly. So much for Special Oblivious Unit.

"How do you know?" Liv asks. "No one asked me"

"Of course they wouldn't ask you but Amaro.."

"He's just overprotective. I swear to God sometimes I think he'll pound anyone who looks at me the wrong way."

"Can you really blame him? After Lewis?" Barba asks her quietly.

"No." she admits. "It's been really hard on all of them. I didn't realize how much." She adds with sadness. "I don't think things will ever be the same."

"They won't." Barba's not going to lie. "But that's to be expected. You'll get through this, Liv, you and the squad."

She smiles at him. "I don't know what I'd do without you, Rafael. You saved me."

"You saved yourself, Liv."

"You give me too much credit."

"And you give yourself far too little. He could have totally broken you..."

"...he did..." she whispers.

"But he didn't. You're here. He's not. He can't hurt you any more. You're not broken, Liv. A little cracked, maybe.." and he smiles to take the edge out of his words, "...but we're all cracked, aren't we?"

"Some of us more than others."

He pulls her into his arms. "Liv, you wouldn't be here if you weren't a survivor, a fighter, to the core. If you bent, if you shattered even a little, no one would blame you. It isn't the breaking and falling that makes us weak, it's the staying down in pieces."

"Rafael Barba, are you sure you don't shrink on the side?" She smiles a little.

"Don't you think we've talked enough?" He retorts.

Not really an answer but, okay, she can live with less talking. God, has there been too much of that.

"Mm hmm." And she kisses him.

His mouth is on hers and it's warm and firm and gentle. Like the feel of spring rain on her face, the feel of warm tropical winds on her face on a summer night. At first, he's hesitant – he's always hesitant because he knows she's been through hell. "Barba," she says softly against his mouth, "I'm not going to break."

He pulls her to him and kisses her hard. His tongue thrusting against hers, his hands running up and down her sides. Slowly, he slides a hand under her shirt and as he touches her breasts, she trembles. He loves touching her skin, he doesn't even notice the scars any more. All he sees is the strength and courage of her, the fearlessness, and he finds it beautiful.

God, he's so hard. And she knows it. With a slight twinkle in her eye, she palms him and feels him grow under her touch. And the more she touches him, the harder he kisses her.

And his touch is as good as she remembered from those months ago. When he'd held her close and soothed her. When he'd chased the tigers away. She can't get enough of those hands.

Her hands run up against his shirt, quickly undoing his tie. "Liv," he says breathlessly, "are you sure you want this?"

"Never wanted it more. I want you, Rafael."

He's been waiting for so long to hear those words. Hear that she wants him as much as he's wanted her.

And it's time.

Time to let Lewis go.

Time to let the healing begin.

So he takes her by the hand to the warm comfort of her bedroom.

"The earth has music for those who listen." - William Shakespeare

The End. For Real. Maybe.


Meanwhile, back at Rikers...

"William, William, can you hear me? Can you hear me? It's Janice. You remember me? It's Doctor Cole."

"Yes, I remember you...what happened...I must have had a heart, it's racing...I can't stop it."

"Don't worry, William, we'll take good care of you. You're going to make it. We're going to get you out of here. Just hold on, okay? Stay with me!"

And a faint smile crosses William Lewis' face. "Okay."

{It's comin', baby. }