Chapter Twenty Six – Placing Blame

Munch couldn't see how anyone could like waiting rooms. In fact, he couldn't see how anyone could like hospitals at all. They were like hungry leeches sucking out your soul. In other words they majorly sucked. He'd never had a good time in a hospital. The time Fin had snuck him in a milkshake didn't count since the bad outnumbered the good. Milkshakes were great, but they didn't out rank bullets to the ass.

"How much longer is this goin' to take?" Fin grumbled.

They'd been grouped together waiting for news on Amanda's and Olivia's conditions for ages. At least it felt like ages. The clock on the wall said otherwise.

"It's only been half an hour," Amaro pointed out.

"Since we been here. The bus left before we did."

"By maybe five minutes."

Chris Shannon had been left in the capable hands of SWAT. He'd been taken into custody and was currently enjoying the hospitality of a holding cell. Not that anyone really needed to interrogate him. They had him dead to rights and not one of the detectives thought he would plead not guilty. Chris had openly said he was prepared for the consequences of his actions when he'd been placed in the back of a squad car. He wasn't going to try to get out of jail time.

Since they hadn't needed to worry about Shannon, the remaining members of the SVU had left for the hospital right away. All they could do now was wait.

"Detectives?"

All four of them looked up at the sound of the nurse's voice. She smiled reassuringly at them, and they all subconsciously relaxed.

"We're done with Detective Rollins. Minor dehydration and lack of nutrients, but nothing that couldn't be fixed easily enough. She'll be released in a few hours if all goes well."

"Can we see her?" Fin asked.

"Of course. Down the hall, fourth room on the right."

"Do you know anything about our other detective?" Cragen questioned.

"No, but I can look into it. What's the name?"

"Olivia Benson."

The nurse nodded and headed off, presumably to find more information for them. Cragen glanced toward his detectives, easily picking up on their uncertainty. He knew what it was about right away.

"Go. I'll wait here for news on Olivia."

Fin and Munch nodded and started off, but Amaro hesitated. Olivia was his partner. As much as he cared about Amanda, Liv should come first.

"I'll wait with you."

"Go, Amaro. I need to speak with her alone anyway."

Nick nodded and turned away. If Cragen needed to speak with Olivia it was best if he didn't get involved. He had no idea what they could possibly need to discuss alone, but it wasn't his place to ask. For now he would go see Amanda.

0~0~0~0

It was almost another hour before news came about Olivia. Because of her head injury, the doctors had run more tests on her than they had on Amanda. Cragen had managed to remain relatively calm while he'd waited, but he was desperate for news. When the doctor called to him, Cragen had shot to his feet in a split second.

"Detective Benson has a mild concussion still, and she's very weak. Her fever and serious dehydration have taken a toll. We're getting fluids and nutrients into her and working on bringing her fever down a bit. She'll be fine, but we're going to keep her overnight. In the morning we'll see if she's going to need to stay longer."

It wasn't fantastic news, but considering what she had been through, Cragen would take it. The doctors would look after her, and she'd regain her strength in a few days.

"May I see her?"

"As long as you go easy and make sure she rests I don't think it would be a problem. This way."

Cragen followed the doctor down to Olivia's room and knocked gently on the door before entering. He pulled a chair up to the side of her bed and sat down. Her good eye opened and focused on him while the other remained swollen shut. Cragen felt his stomach tighten at the sight. She shouldn't have gotten hurt.

"How are you feeling?"

Olivia sighed and looked up at the ceiling. She was exhausted and hurting quite a bit, but it wasn't so much physical pain. It was guilt.

"I've been better."

Cragen nodded, having expected as much. He knew she'd placed the burden of what had happened on her own shoulders. She was blaming herself for being kidnapped and dragging Amanda into the mess as well. The guilt didn't belong to her, and he needed to make her see that. If he didn't, it would continue to eat her alive. She didn't deserve that.

"This wasn't your fault," he told her firmly.

Olivia sighed again and closed her eyes. She'd been the one to work Chris' case. If she'd found his family before they'd been killed his life wouldn't be in ruins and none of this would have happened. She had deserved the punishment Chris had handed out, and Amanda hadn't. The fact that she had been dragged in was on Olivia.

"You know, I keep telling myself that, but it doesn't change things. Amanda was put through all of this because of a mistake I made in a case years ago."

Cragen reached out and took Olivia's hand.

"Look at me." When she did, he continued. "You didn't make a mistake. I know you worked that case just as hard as you did every one of them. It's what makes you such a good detective. Unfortunately, you can't win them all regardless of how hard you work."

Olivia kept her eyes focused on his. She knew what he was saying was true. None of this was really her fault, but it still hurt.

"I just wish things could have been different."

"I know, Olivia. He made a choice not to let go, and you saw what happened. Don't make the same choice."

Olivia smiled gently and squeezed his hand in thanks. She'd needed to hear that.

"I won't."

"Good. Now get some rest. You've been through a lot."

"I will. Thank you, Captain."

He gave her a nod, patted her hand, and stood.

"You'll let the others know I'm okay?"

"Of course. I'll even try to hold them off from invading your room for awhile."

Olivia chuckled lightly and closed her eyes to try and get some rest. Chris had made a choice, and so had she. Too many people out there needed her to let one event stop her from reaching out to help them. Being a detective was who she was, and she wouldn't let anything change that.


Author's Note: Well, there you go. That's the end! Hope everyone liked it. While I am working away on my next fic, a crossover with SVU and CM, it's taking me awhile. Inspiration is a little low even though I've really wanted to write this one. Chances are I'll be taking a little break after it to maybe increase my motivation to work on the others I have planned for later.