A/N: How quickly life changes when you're not even looking...

DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and the characters; TStabler© owns the story you're about to read.

"I'm going to assume," Tucker said, eyeing Olivia and Elliot in the chairs in front of his desk, "That this was simply because you needed each other, you almost died, it was an intense experience..."

"No," Elliot said, interrupting.

Tucker narrowed his eyes. "No," he said, folding his hands, "Just like that."

"Just like that," Elliot told him, tilting his head. "Now, is there another reason you called us in here? Or can we attempt to go back to living a normal life now?"

Tucker rubbed his forehead. "You always manage to push my buttons, Stabler," he gritted.

"You always manage to be an ass," Elliot retorted. Then he sighed. "Seriously, Ed, come on. Can we please just..."

"I need statements," Tucker cut in. "From both of you. And yes, I need them now, because your paid leave starts tomorrow, you have a session with Huang that..."

Olivia spoke up, annoyed. "Oh, no fucking way," she shook her head adamantly.

Tucker eyed her with a mix of concern and contempt. "It's mandatory if you want to be cleared for active duty. What happened to the two of you..."

"I've been blown up before!" she shouted. "Hi, remember, Merrit Rook?"

"You were just...that was different, you...you...were almost killed, Benson!" Tucker yelled. "The man you love was almost blown to bits right in front of you! This is completely..."

"Man she loves, huh?" Elliot said with a smirk. He leaned forward and rested his hands on Tucker's desk. "You're worried about her?"

Tucker bit his lip and mumbled something.

"What was that?" Olivia asked, squinting.

"Both of you," Tucker gritted. "You piss me off, my life would be easier if I didn't have to clean up after you every fucking day of my life, but I don't want you..." he shook his head. "It's one session with Huang, and three days off. Policy. Nothing he asks will be personal, it will only be relevant to this, Olivia. I promise."

Olivia sighed. "There's no way around this?"

Tucker shook his head, then watched them get up out of their seats. "One more thing," he continued.

They both looked at him, tired and pale.

"This," he wagged a finger between them, "Whatever it is, whenever it ends, it stops on company time. The city isn't paying you to play wag and tag, and if you can't work together when it's over...then you won't. Do I make myself clear?"

Olivia nodded glumly as she walked out of the office, but Elliot stayed behind. He crossed his arms and shook his head, confused and agitated. "What makes you so sure this is gonna end?"

Tucker folded his arms. "I know you, Stabler," he said. "And I know her."

"What the hell does that even..."

"It means," Tucker broke in, "That you're a recently divorced father of five in no real shape to jump into a new long-term relationship, and Benson is a firecracker who runs from any kind of commitment as fast as she can." He ran a hand down his face. "On top of that...you're the only person in each other's life with the power to truly destroy the other...if something happened, neither one of you would take it well, and I don't want to witness that kind of fallout."

Elliot bit his lip. "You're right," he said. "Which is why this is so easy." He narrowed his eyes. "You've got nothing to worry about." He turned on his heels and left, heading out into the hallway to meet Olivia, and head to the only place they really felt safe.

Tucker watched him go, shaking his head, hoping it wasn't just the stubbornness talking.


"These beds are so fucking lumpy," Elliot complained, rolling over for the seventh time. One arm was draped around Olivia, on leg curled between hers. He spent a few moments just breathing her in, remembering what it felt like to relax, to be safe.

Her voice cut through the silence, a harsh whisper as she rolled further into him. "What are we gonna do?"

"About what, baby?" he asked, kissing her forehead.

She nuzzled him a bit, then said, "Us. This." She kissed her way across his neck, dipping to his chest every so often. "The kids...they don't know about us...and if you get custody of them, you can't all just stay in a..."

"Back up," he said, looking down at her with serious eyes. "Aren't you forgetting someone?"

Her face went white. "I just assumed that when this was all over we'd..." she shook her head. "Never mind, I know it was silly to even..."

He silenced her with a kiss. The laugh that reverberated in his throat vibrated against her lips. "Baby," he said, pulling away from her, "I can't just go back to living without you. Waking up with you, going to bed with you, that's...that's my life now. I just...I was trying to think of a way to ask you that didn't sound pretentious or obnoxious."

She chuckled and worked her body deeper into his. "I didn't even think you had to ask," she whispered, then kissed him softly.

He moaned, wrapping her up tight and deepening the kiss. When he pulled back, he brushed her hair back, and he said, "And the kids know. They're...they're really not surprised."

She looked up at him, confused, and her mouth fell open to speak, but the door creaked open and the light from the squad room hit their faces, making them squint.

"Sorry," Rollins said. "Can I...can I come in?"

"It's the fucking bunkroom," Elliot hissed. "We're not that..."

"El," Olivia warned, raising an eyebrow.

Elliot smirked for a moment. "Well, we're smart enough to know when people are still here." He sat up a bit, keeping her in his arms, taking her with him. "What do you want?"

Rollins sat on the edge of the bed across from them. "I just...I wanted to apologize. This is really..." she cleared her throat. "What happened with Alex, I..."

"Hey," Elliot stopped her. "That's one memory I'd rather not relive, okay? It's fine. I...understand why it happened, I just..." he raised and lowered his brows. "You think you know a person."

Rollins laughed, then said, "I should have been more focused on you, and I got the two of you into more trouble, you had to move houses because of me, and I made things more..."

"Did Alex put you up to this?" Olivia asked. "You're not gonna be charged with obstruction or tampering or..."

"You're her best friend, Olivia," Rollins interrupted, a sincerity in her voice that was shocking. "I can't have anything between us, not if I want to stay in her life." She chuckled bitterly. "God, that night...the way she was driving to the scene, the way she cried, it's like she..." her eyes dropped. "Anyway, I just don't need us at each other's throats, or ignoring each other." She looked at Elliot. "You either."

"We're cool as long as you stay close to your girlfriend and away from mine," he joked. He looked at her a bit more warmly. "You're a good cop, Rollins. You made one mistake, because you knew we could handle our own shit. It's okay."

Rollins smiled at him. "I thought you hated me," she said with a breath.

Olivia laughed. "Oh, that's just his bubbly personality," she teased, scraping her nails down his chest. "The only person I think he's ever been genuinely nice to instantly was..."

"You," he said, kissing her nose.

Rollins smiled again at the couple, then rose. "When you're up for it, there's some people downstairs who I think really want to see you."

Elliot gave her a look, but Olivia had a feeling she knew who was waiting. "Come on, El," she said. "I think they really want to see you."

Elliot grumbled as he got out of the bed, but once he opened the door and looked down the stairs, his face lit up. He ran like the wind, down the flight of steps and into the middle of the room, and he swooped all five of his children into his arms. "Oh, my God," he sniffled. "I missed you guys, so much."

"We missed you, too, Daddy," Lizzie said, squeezing her father tight.

Olivia, watching with tears in her eyes, slowly made her way down the steps. She gave a small wave when Elliot's oldest son caught her eyes, and then her eyes widened.

"Liv," Dickie yelled, running to her.

The other kids followed, wrapping her in a hug that was almost as tight as the one they'd shared with their father. Her shocked eyes met Elliot's, the stunned expression on her face paling in comparison to the pure joy on his. She saw the tears drip slowly down his cheek and she squeezed the kids harder.

Elliot sniffled again as he walked over to them, making himself the outer circle of the group hug, and he kissed each child on the head before planting his lips on Olivia's.

Cragen sniffed, trying to hide the emotion, and he clapped his hands together. "Well, yeah," he said. "We're all really glad the two of you are all right."

Elliot laughed, the tight embrace loosening and disbursing. "How did you guys get here?"

Maureen waved her car keys. "I took the van," she said. "As soon as Miss Novak called and said..."

"Speakin' of Novak," Fin said, looking around the room. "Anyone seen her tonight?"

"She's probably dealing with Morrow's arraignment," Amaro said. "Cabot can't work the case."

Cragen sighed, looked at Elliot and Olivia, then at the kids. "You, uh, you're all more than welcome to stay in the house. You need to be alone with your family right now."

Olivia blinked. "Yeah, uh, you guys are gonna love the place." She turned to Elliot. "Call me when you..."

He kissed her, stopping her words. "You heard the man, Liv," he chuckled. "We have to go be with our family." He winked at her then led his kids out of the unit, chattering and laughing as they walked.

Olivia was frozen for a moment. She knew her life had changed on that stoop, but she never expected this.

A/N: Final chapter? Next.