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It was late at night when Olivia made her way to Fin’s apartment. She had to do this before her courage failed her. He answered after the fourth knock, frowning in complete confusion at her presence.

“Liv? You all right?” Fin stepped back to let her inside. He grabbed her by the arms when she just stood staring at him with tears in her eyes. “What’s wrong, baby girl? Who am I cutting for you?”

“I need a favour, Fin.” She couldn’t stop shaking. He led her into his living room and made her sit on the couch. “I’ve wasted so much time. I don’t know if I have a minute left to waste.”

“You’re starting to scare me.” Fin stared when she pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket. He skimmed through the word. “What am I—”

“Cancer.” She wrapped her arms around herself, closing her eyes against the pain in his. “I was so tired after Lewis. So tired. Kept losing weight. I finally went to see my doctor when it didn’t seem to be getting better. I’m having surgery. Chemo after. I’m going to be very sick.”

“But you’ll live.”

“They don’t know how far it’s spread yet.” Olivia hadn’t wrapped her mind around the meaning behind those words. If it had spread. Her doctor had kept talking about options. She hadn’t been able to listen. “Fin. I need….”

“Whatever you need, baby girl, I’m here.” Fin would go to war for her. She didn’t think cancer would be intimidated by him.

“You’re going to think I’ve lost my mind.”

“Stabler.” Fin proved once again how well he knew her. “Want me to find him for you?”

“I just….” Olivia didn’t know how to explain to Fin. “I just think I’m going to need everyone for this fight.”

And it still might not be enough.

“I’ll drag his ass here. Promise.” Fin settled against the couch. “You got someone to go with you to the doctor’s office?”

“You going to hold my hand?”

“I’ll even hold your hair back when you’re puking your guts out.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

A hysterectomy.

Olivia walked out of her doctor’s office in a haze of words. She had a stack of paper detailing what her next few months were going to be like. What am I going to do?

‘You’re going to need a support system, Olivia. Pre and post-surgery. Chemo’s rough. Do you have family close by?’

The doctor’s words rang in her ears like a siren. Family? Olivia hadn’t even called anyone to come with her to this appointment. She had friends.

Her friends were her family.

Her friends had jobs. Families of their own. She had an empty apartment with memories.

“Liv?”

She stumbled halfway down the steps, just managing to catch herself. “Damn it, Fin. Can we not try to break my neck before….”

Before I die anyway.

Fin ignored what they both knew she’d been about to say. Thought you were gonna call me? Uni spotted your sedan so I had Amanda drop me off here to wait for you. Figured you might want someone to drive you back.”

“Fin.”

“Listen, baby girl, you don’t have to let anyone else in if you don’t want. But I’m here for the long haul.” He held his hand out expectantly. “Your shaky so I’m gonna drive because no one’s ever gonna let us live it down if we crash. You can tell me all about it on the way—”

“Stage three ovarian cancer.” Olivia choked on the words. She grabbed his arm when her knees actually started to give out on her. “I’ll have surgery then chemo for several months. And even then….”

“Even then?”

“Doctor threw around numbers like five years and a seventy per cent chance of it coming back.” Olivia pinched the bridge of her nose to stave off tears. She felt Fin’s arm go around her waist. “What if they can’t get all of the cancer?”

“They will.”

“Fin.”

“You can’t go into this expecting the worst.” Fin waited for her to fish her keys out of her pocket. “Maybe the surgery doesn’t work. Cross that bridge when we get to it.”

“Hate bridges.” Olivia knew he was right but it just felt like an impossible hill to climb at the moment. What had hope ever done for her? “I’m going to have to tell the brass. Take time off.”

“I know.”

“What if I can’t work again?”

“Then we’re both getting early retirement.” Fin shrugged. He took the keys from her trembling fingers and helped her into the sedan. “Quit worrying about the brass.”

“What should I worry about?”

“How many times you’re gonna punch Stabler’s ugly mug when he shows up.” Fin slipped into the driver’s seat, grinning at her stunned silence. “What? You thought I was gonna take my time finding his stupid ass.”

“Fin. How?”

“I was motivated. Called in a favour with a dude I know that you don’t need to know.” Fin winked at her. “Stabler’s been undercover for the last year and a half.”

“Undercover?”

“Yep. He had no idea about Lewis.” Fin watched her take shallow breaths. “Easy, Liv. He didn’t know. His family had no way of contacting him. Think they thought maybe it’d be more painful for them to reach out knowing he couldn’t.”

Olivia shook her head. She focused on trying to breathe to avoid hyperventilating. “I always thought….”

“I know. He’s not that much of a dickhead.” Fin’s grin widened when she smacked his arm. “So, I got a note to your boy. He broke cover because he’s still a bit of a dickhead. And he’ll be here by the end of the week.”

“Shit.”

“Well, it’s too late for regrets now, baby girl.” Fin laughed when she hit him again. “Be nice or I won’t stop for coffee.”

“Can’t. Back on tea.” Olivia grumbled.

“Well, shit. There goes the nice atmosphere at the precinct.” Fin seemed relieved to see her smiling. “And will you stop hitting my arm? I bruise easy.”

“I’m going to have to tell everyone.” Olivia forced her hands to relax to avoid crumpling all the paperwork from the doctor. “How do I? I can’t do this, Fin.”

“You’re not alone, Liv.”

 

Chapter Text

“What’s the plan?” Fin asked. She’d had him drive to One Hogan Place. While she could tell the squad together, she wanted to talk to Rafael first. “What are we doing?”

We.

“Surgery. Months of chemo. It’s going to take me close to three months to fully recover from the surgery itself. Who knows how chemo will affect me.” Olivia rested her head against the seat, closing her eyes and listening to the sounds of traffic around them. “I’ll put in for two months vacation. I’ve got more than enough saved up. Maybe I won’t have to take official sick leave.”

“I got you, Liv.”

The drive from her doctor’s office was slow thanks to traffic. Olivia didn’t mind. She enjoyed the silence, trying not to get overwhelmed by what was to come.

There were so many what-ifs about the next few months. Her surgery was scheduled in fourteen days. Two weeks. She had two weeks to try to wrap her mind around everything.

A hysterectomy.

She was never going to be able to get pregnant. Adoption hadn’t been an option for her either. Not suitable. Apparently in more ways than one.

“Liv? You okay?” Fin rested a hand on her arm.

Olivia blinked the tears from her eyes. She hadn’t even realized she’d started to sob. “Sorry. Fine. I’m fine.”

“It’s just me, baby girl. No need to front.”

Olivia covered her face with her hands. “I’m never going to have kids, Fin. Just….it’s so much to process.”

“I’m sorry, Liv.” He squeezed her arm. “Fuck cancer.”

“Yeah.”

One thing Olivia had always appreciated was how Fin didn’t ever push. He was content to drive the rest of the way in silence. She needed the time to get ready for disclosure.

Disclosing her diagnosis.

She didn’t have the luxury of waiting. Her time off had to be requested now. She had to prepare as much as possible for when she was too sick.

Too sick to do much of anything.

How the hell am I going to manage?

Olivia trudged through One Hogan Place. She managed to make it to Rafael’s office without anyone stopping her. Carmen eyed her in concern but waved her inside where she found him working on his couch. “You have a minute?”

“For you? At least three.” Rafael patted the empty space next to him. “Sit. Sit.”

“I….” Olivia paced his office for a few seconds before giving in and sitting beside him. “I’m taking a few days off.”

“Wait? What?”

“Medical leave.” Olivia wondered how much of her vacation time she was going to wind up using. “I’m having surgery.”

“Surgery?” Rafael turned towards her. He moved his laptop from the couch to the coffee table and shifted closer. “What kind?”

“I have cancer.” Olivia watched him close his eyes as if to block out the words. He opened them a second later and reached out to take her hand in both of his. “Stage three. Ovarian.”

“Stage three?” Rafael whispered hoarsely. “Stage three.”

“Yes.” She knew he probably had a thousand questions. Rafael had always been a person who solved things with words. With his mind. “I’ll be fairly weak after surgery so three months seemed a good bet for taking time away from the precinct.”

If I come back, at all.

If I survive.

What…no don’t go there. It’s not going to help.

“You’re going to need help. Food. Someone to clean your place.” Rafael began rattling off a long list of things. “I’ll text with Detective Tutuola.”

“Rafael? Take a breath.” Olivia felt overwhelmed by his (and Fin’s) immediately leaping to what the next steps were to help her. “I’ll be fine.’

“Of course, you will.” He patted her hand gently. “I’m going to help you.”

“I shouldn’t take up your time. I know you’ve got trial prep today. And I’ve got more people to share the wonderful news with.” Olivia stood up only to find herself enveloped in a warm hug. She rested her head on his shoulder for a moment. “I’ll be okay.”

And I’ll keep saying that until I believe it.

“Even if you’re not, I’m here.” Rafael released her with a sad smile. “I imagine Fin’s downstairs waiting for you.”

“How’d you know?”

“Fin? Not be there every step of the way?” Rafael shook his head at her. “Keep me in the loop with when your appointments are.”

“Rafael.”

Olivia.” He walked her to the door, pausing to give her one last embrace. “You’re going to have to accept there are people in the world who care enough to rearrange their lives to take care of yours.”

Leaving his office with tears in her eyes, Olivia tried to compose herself. She found Fin waiting for her outside the main doors. He was on his phone.

“Rafael?”

Fin shook his head. “Stabler. He got his flight pushed up. Should be here tomorrow.”

“What exactly did you tell him?”

Fin hesitated but answered when she insisted. “You might be dying.”

Fin.” Olivia punched him lightly on the arm. “You didn’t.”

“What? He needed motivation.”

And it might be true.

Olivia heaved a massive sigh. “Wonderful. Motivation.”

Telling the squad had gone well. Mostly. Amanda and Nick had both offered to help in any way they could. Murphy had gone over her vacation plans.

She’d decided to start them immediately.

Two weeks wasn’t a lot of time to prepare for an invasive surgery. For staying in the hospital for days. For being stuck in bed for weeks.

Her entire world was spiralling out of control. She hated it. Cancer wasn’t a problem she could solve.

Or shoot.

It might be easier if it was.

The following day Olivia found herself walking in Central Park. She wasn’t going to have a lot of energy in the coming months. It seemed a good time to enjoy the cool spring morning.

There weren’t a lot of people by the fountain. Olivia found a bench to sit on. She was finding it hard to stay hopeful.

Hard to remember the worst hadn’t happened.

Not yet.

It was just hard.

She was about to get up when she heard familiar footsteps heading her way. “Elliot.”

“Fin mentioned you’d be here.” Elliot stood before her after two long years. He seemed tired. Exhausted. “I had to see you.”

“I’m not dying today, Elliot.” Olivia nodded toward the bench. “Not today.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“I’ve missed you,” Olivia admitted. Her diagnosis had brought a lot of things in her life in perspective. It had changed her thoughts on a lot of things. “So much. I know what Fin told you. I’m not dying.”

Not today. She repeated to herself.

Elliot stretched his legs out in front of him. He placed two cups between them. “Got you tea.”

“Fin?”

“He might’ve mentioned a few things.” Elliot grabbed his own coffee cup. “Remember when you used to have flowers in your tea?”

“Tasted better than the sludge Munch made every morning.” Olivia wrapped her fingers around her cup. The warmth seeped into her. “How are the kids?”

“Good. Busy with their lives. Happy to have me home for once. The twins and Eli are with Kath in Jersey.” Elliot sipped his coffee. “I’m apparently difficult to live with even when I’m undercover for months at a time.”

She should try working with you.” Olivia chuckled at the memory of the conversation from so long ago. “How’s Kathleen?”

“Doing well. Better. She keeps in touch with my mom.” Elliot glanced over at her. “I never thanked you. For going to see my mom. Kathleen couldn’t keep the secret.”

“What can I say? You were an adorable carrot.” She got slowly to her feet. “I should head back to my apartment. I have a to-do list as long as your IAB file.”

“Ouch.” Elliot grabbed at his chest with a laugh. “Can I help?”

“You’re going to whether I say yes or not.” Olivia got to her feet. She knew he was here for the long haul. “I want to make something crystal clear, Elliot.”

“Yeah?”

“I don’t want any apologies. Not about your leaving. Not about William Lewis. Not about anything in the past.” She began walking toward the nearest park exit with him easily matching her stride. “This isn’t going to be easy.  This new journey. It’s going to suck. And I don’t have time to emotionally carry anyone else’s guilt or baggage. I just don’t. I’m not even sure I’m strong enough to carry my own.”

“Then you’ll just have to get used to allowing others to carry your burdens with you.” Elliot wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick embrace. “Whatever you need, Liv. I’ve got your back.”

“Partners?”

“For better or worse.”

“Pretty sure this is the sickness and health part.” Olivia grabbed her phone out of her pocket when it beeped. Rafael. “Time to head home. I’ve got visitors coming over.”

“Anyone I know?”

“Rafael Barba. Our ADA. He’s a good friend. He’s hired someone to help take care of my place while I’m sick. Wants me to meet them to make sure I’m comfortable around them.” Olivia pocketed her phone. “He means well.”

“He cares about you.” Elliot nudged her with his elbow.

“Elliot.”

“Just saying. You don’t go to that sort of trouble unless you care about someone.” Elliot was completely unfazed by her glaring at him. “If she doesn’t work out, let me know.  I’m sure Katie’s got college friends who could use part-time work.”

Olivia just shook her head. “It’s all so overwhelming.”

“Then take it a step at a time.”

“I have two weeks until a part of my body is gone forever.” Olivia found herself shivering despite the bright sunlight. “I don’t have the luxury of taking one step at a time.”

Elliot tightened his arm around her. “You’re far less alone than you realize, Liv. Cragen called me this morning. He’s going to pop by to see you. Heard Munch is in town as well. You’ve got family. You’ve got us. Fin. Your ADA. The rest of your squad.”

Chapter Text

The day before her surgery Olivia sat on her bed. Panicking. Alone. She had an empty bag beside her. It was supposed to be packed already.

She’d procrastinated.

It was real if she packed for her stay in the hospital. Her phone sat next to her bag. Four missed calls. Ten unread messages. She’d turned the ringer off and placed it screen side down.

Elliot. Fin. Rafael. Fin. Nick. Amanda. Fin again.

Fin again.

Accepting help had been harder than anticipated. It had seemed easier before. Before surgery had loomed in front of her.

Olivia wasn’t ready. Who would be? Shit. I can’t do this.

Her doctor had referred her to a therapist and a support group. It helped. Apparently. Olivia had been able to bring herself to go despite the nudging from her little family of friends.

She wasn’t ready.

While staring at her empty bag, Olivia heard her front door being unlocked. Damn it. I knew I shouldn’t have given out those keys. Three people had keys to her place now. Fin, Elliot, and Rafael. They’d be the ones coming over most often.

She waited to see which of her over-protective assholes had gotten tired of being ignored. Her money was on Fin. The other two had probably texted him, knowing she’d be less likely to shoot Fin.

“Where you at, Liv?”

“Bedroom.” Olivia stayed put. Fin could find her.

“You ignoring us for a reason?” Fin had his phone out and was sending out a text. They probably had a group chat. “What’s wrong? Thought you packed already. Amanda said she came over to help.”

Assholes.

“I….” Olivia shrugged helplessly when tears clogged her throat. Amanda had helped. She’d just dumped everything out after Amanda had left. “I’m fucking terrified, Fin. What if something happens? What if I don’t wake up? What if the cancer spreads?”

All the worries Olivia had bottled up came pouring out of her. Fin sat next to her on the bed. He eased her into his arms.

“It’s gonna be okay.”

“You can’t say that, Fin.” Olivia shook her head. She knew there were no guarantees about the surgery. Or the chemo. Or anything at this point. “Even the doctor can’t guarantee I’m going to be okay.”

“Screw him. I’m saying you’re going to be okay.” Fin had been a pillar of positivity, which had surprised Olivia. She’d expected a healthy dose of realism from him. “Why don’t we pack your bag?”

“You want to fold my unmentionables?” Olivia laughed weakly.

“Why didn’t you call me? Or any of us?” Fin let go of her and got to his feet. He found the pile of clothing she dumped out of the bag on the other side of the bed. “You ain’t gonna need jeans at the hospital. Where’s your sweatpants? Doc said you had to be there maybe two days if all goes well.”

“It might….”

“Quit borrowing trouble. You’re worse than Munch. Not as ugly but still as moody and negative.” Fin batted away the pillow she flung at him. “Where’s your sweatpants? I know you’ve got a hoodie. Ugly grey thing.”

“Bottom drawer.” Olivia pointed to her wardrobe. She felt mildly embarrassed when Fin pulled out a stack of clothing that was definitely too big to be hers.

“Cassidy’s?”

“No.” Olivia watched Fin pack two pairs of sweatpants, two T-shirts, and a hoodie. “Not Brian’s.”

“Liv.” Fin came back over to sit beside her. He had a USMC T-shirt in his hands. “How’s Stabler going react when he sees this?”

“Fin.” Olivia had taken them from Elliot’s locker when he’d left. She hadn’t seen the point of mailing them to him. “They’re comfortable.”

“Sure.” Fin smirked at her. He tossed the shirt toward the bag. “How about you deal with your unmentionables and I get something to eat for us. You hydrating?”

“Fin.”

“The doctor said to eat light and hydrate.”

“Will you quit quoting my doctor to me?” Olivia groaned.

“No, I won’t. We found you the best ovarian cancer doc in the city. I’ll quote them if I want.” Fin stood up again, reaching for his phone when it beeped. "Stabler's picking you up in the morning. One of us will be there the whole day. Waiting for your surgery to be over. You won't be alone."

"I know." Olivia tried to feel grateful. And she was. It was just hard to show it when she was so very afraid. "I know."

I know.

And it doesn't make it any easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Olivia regained consciousness slowly. Everything was fuzzy. She fought to open her eyes. The sheer struggle of it made her begin to panic.

“Easy. You had surgery. You’re in the hospital. You’re safe.” Fin grabbed her hand when she tried to sit up. “You’re safe, baby girl. You had surgery. Everything went fine. You had surgery. You’re in the hospital. Everything went fine. You're safe.”

Olivia managed to open her eyes. Fin’s concerned face came into view. She slowed her breathing down while he continued to repeat himself. “What time is it?”

“Mid-afternoon.  Took you a minute to wake up.” Fin sat on the edge of her bed. “How you feelin’?”

“Fuzzy. Hurts,” Olivia grimaced.

“Let me grab one of the nurses. They wanted to know when you woke up.” Fin watched her for a few seconds. He touched a hand to her head gently. “Take it easy, all right? No jumping jacks or whatever shit it is people do to work out.”

With a grin, Fin left her to grab one of the nurses. Olivia found the remote that allowed her to adjust the bed. Sitting up a little felt so much better, she couldn’t go all the way since it pulled on her stomach muscles.

Her mind was hazy. Olivia remembered pieces of what the doctor had told her before the surgery. She had a paper somewhere with the details.

All that matters is I survived the surgery.

Step one is done.

I’ve made it over the first hurdle.

It was her doctor that returned with Fin. The surgery had indeed gone well. They’d gotten all of the cancer.

Taken everything from her in the process.

The doctor promised to check in on her later in the day. She’d probably stay at the hospital for another twenty-four hours. They reminded her that when she went home. She’d needed to stay in bed.

In bed.

Actual bed rest. Olivia was still fuzzy from the anaesthesia but she grasped the seriousness of what she was being told. Weeks of doing absolutely nothing. It was going to be miserable.

“You okay?” Fin returned to the chair near her bed once the doctor and nurse had left.

“Empty.”

“Liv?” Fin moved from the chair to sit on the bed next to her. “You need the nurse again? Want me to get you the good drugs? Got a friend who swears by edibles for dealing with surgery and chemo.”

“Fin.” She narrowed her eyes on him. “We’ll revisit the edibles when I’m going through chemo. Might change my mind.”

“All good. So what’s wrong? You said empty.” Fin held a hand up when she shook her head. “Tears ain’t nothing, Liv. So don’t give me none of your bullshit. I’m not buying it.”

“I’m never going to have the chance to be pregnant. Ever.” Olivia had tried not to think about it. Tried. Some of the women in the support group the doctor had recommended talked about the grieving process post-surgery. She’d tried so hard to be strong. “I always thought I’d….have a chance. Find the right person. Isn’t that how it works? Find the right person. Have a kid. A few kids if you’re Elliot.”

“From the state of his ring finger, he ain’t found the right person.” Fin chuckled when she weakly swatted his leg. “Careful. Might hurt yourself.”

“Fin.”

“I’m sorry, baby girl. I am. Nothing anyone can do about it.” He’d never cushioned the truth for her. “I can’t shoot cancer. Would if I could.”

“I know.” Olivia wiped her eyes on a corner of her sheet. “Have you had any rest?”

“Nah. Who needs it? I got to stay in here. Left everyone else pacing in the waiting room. Less comfortable chairs out there.” Fin grinned at her. “Had to take care of you.”

“Of course.” Olivia breathed through the pain when she couldn’t stop herself from laughing. “Remind me not to do that for a few days.”

“We’ll stick Munch in here with you. He’ll put you right to sleep better than the drugs the doc gave you.” Fin got to his feet. “I’ll let them know you’re awake.”

“Fin? Thanks.”

“I got your back, Liv,” Fin promised. "Rafael's in court. He couldn't postpone despite his best efforts but there's a waiting room full of people wanting to see you."

The nurse had apparently given him strict instructions. One visitor at a time. Olivia made it through awkwardly comforting visits from Munch and Cragen. Nick popped in with flowers from him and Amanda.

Elliot came in last. He ignored the chair and sat on the edge of her bed as Fin had. "How are you feeling?"

Olivia was tempted to say fine. He wouldn't believe it and what was the point of lying. "Tired. Hurts a little. Empty. No more dreams about having kids."

Elliot grabbed her hand. "You can adopt, Liv."

"I'm even less viable than I was way back when."

"They were wrong then. And they'd be wrong now." Elliot rested a hand gently on her leg over the blankets. "Whatever you need, Liv, I'm here."

"Just need rest."

"I'm sure it's on the list of things you need." Elliot patted her leg then moved from the bed to drag the chair close to it. He sat down and leaned forward. "Why don't you rest? I'm sure they're going to want you to move around a little in a few hours. Better rest up while you can."

"El."

"One hurdle at a time. Let's get you healed up from the surgery. Then we'll work on the next hurdle."

 

Chapter Text

Three days into bed rest at home had Olivia ready to do something drastic. She was tired and in pain. She’d refused the stranger meds the doctor had given her.

She’d hated waking up fuzzy at the hospital. She refused to do so at home as well. The only thing that kept her in the bed at the hospital had been Fin’s reassurances.

It all reminded her a little too much of William Lewis.

The fuzziness in her mind. The inability to wake up. The pain when she moved even a little.

In the safety of her own home, Olivia refused to feel that same fog in her mind. So she was in pain. And lonely despite her friends coming in and out of her apartment.

She felt oddly disconnected from her own body.

It had been Amanda’s turn to ‘care for the invalid.’ Olivia’s grumbled words. Not Amanda’s. She wasn’t being a pleasant patient.

She’d wanted alone time so she’d told Amanda to leave. It had taken some arguing but she had. And now Olivia sat in her dark bedroom.

Regretting the sudden quiet.

“Liv? You all right in there?” Fin poked his head into her bedroom. She hadn’t even heard the front door. He peered around the room. “Shit. This is depressing me and I got all my organs.”

“Fin.”

“Nah. Hang on. Let me sort something out.” Fin vanished out of her room.

“Fin? Fin.” Olivia adjusted the pillows behind her with a groan. She had a few more days before her first dose of chemo. It was hard to get the motivation to do anything with that looming over her. “Fin? What are you doing?”

“I’m busy.”

“Busy?” Olivia rolled her eyes. She stared up at the ceiling for a few minutes considering her options.

“Don’t even think about getting out of that bed without help.”

“How do you think I’ve been going to the bathroom?”

“Yeah, well the doc said to take it easy aside from necessary movements. You’ve just got one more day before you can move around more freely.” Fin’s voice came from the living room. “Stabler’s bringing dinner for you. I’m gonna keep you company until then.”

“I’m….” Olivia wanted to say fine but she wasn’t. Fin would call her out for the lie.

“You’re not fine. Stop playing.” Fin came back into the room. He helped her out of bed and led her into the living room. He’d opened the curtains and turned on a few lights which brightened things up significantly. “Let’s get you settled on the sofa.”

“Where’d all this come from?” Olivia noticed the new pillows and blankets on her sofa.

“Friend claims this helped when his wife was on bed rest. Extra support or something.” Fin gestured to the pillow that he’d placed at one end of the couch. “Nurse said you’d be cold so I got blankets. They’re soft. Tested them myself.”

Olivia grabbed his arm while he helped her sit down. “Thank you, Fin. For all of this. Organizing help. I know you set up the schedule.”

“I said I got your back. I meant it.” Fin got her settled then handed her a remote. “Got you set up with a couple of streaming services. All the shit TV you could possibly want to watch.”

“Do I want to know how you set me up with streaming service accounts?”

“They don’t need to know I’m not your husband.”

“Fin.” Olivia laughed helplessly.

“What? I’m your emergency contact, aren’t I? Same difference.”

“Little more to being a husband than emergency contact.” Olivia’s mood had already lightened significantly. She frowned when she noticed the room smelled like sweet oranges. “Did you spray something?”

“Sweet orange.”

“What?”

“Supposed to make you feel better.” Fin grinned when she stared wide-eyed at him. “What? I just know stuff.”

“You know about aromatherapy?”

“Maybe. Dunno if I believe it but it can’t hurt.” Fin shrugged. “What do you want for lunch? Gotta be some leftovers. It’s your fridge.”

“You know exactly what’s in my fridge. It’s full of food. I don’t know how Rafa managed it.” Olivia didn’t know how she’d pay her friends back for everything they’d done for her.

“What’s wrong?” Fin came back over and sat on the coffee table.

“I’m just afraid,” Olivia admitted. “Afraid of chemo. And what might come after.”

“You’re going to be okay, Liv.”

Chapter Text

The night before her first chemo treatment arrived way too quickly. Olivia wasn’t ready. No matter how often she’d said she was.

Elliot planned to pick her up in the morning. Her doctor had said she wouldn’t want to drive herself. They didn’t know how chemo would affect her but it was likely she’d be exhausted and out of it.

Going home alone after the treatment would be unwise.

Amanda and Nick had brought dinner over and spent the evening with her. They’d left together. She didn’t say anything—or make any assumptions.

It was just nice to have her apartment to herself. They’d tried a little too hard to lift her spirits. She didn’t want them lifted.

She wanted to be allowed to momentarily wallow in the unfairness of everything. Just briefly. She could be strong another day.

She’d have to be strong for many days to come.

For one day, she wanted to rail against the nightmare of cancer. About the loss of her ability to have children. About the genuine fear, she might lose her life. Her friends were for the most part too focused on cheering her up.

Lifting her spirits.

Sitting on her sofa with a blanket around her, Olivia stared at her blank TV screen. She was filled with anxious energy. Nothing she did seemed to help.

Olivia glanced at the clock on her wall. Eleven. Is it too late to call? She grabbed her phone anyway and hit the first number in her recent calls. A grumpy ‘what’ came over the line after the fourth ring. “Fin?”

“Who am I shooting?”

“Violence isn’t always the answer.” Olivia couldn’t help snickering.

“It is when someone calls you at eleven at night. What’s up, baby girl? What do you need?” Fin sounded less grumpy.

“I didn’t mean to disturb you.” Olivia regretted calling him already. “I just….”

“I can be there in an hour.”

“No. Fin.”

“I have a stop to make but I’ll be there in an hour.” Fin hung up before she could change his mind.

It did indeed take him an hour to show up. Fin knocked then let himself into her apartment. A good thing since Olivia hadn’t moved off her couch. She was still dressed in her pajamas and covered in a blanket.

“Brought you a little gift.” Fin dropped onto the couch next to her then pulled a small ziplock bag out of his pocket.

“Fin.”

“Sour gummies with little but of something to help you relax. A friend brought them from his last trip to Colorado.” Fin opened the bag and held it out to her. “Hungry?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not? Doc said you’re fine as long it’s not within a few hours before your treatment.” Fin popped one into his mouth. “Tastes all right.”

“Fin.” Olivia grabbed one and hesitantly took a bite. “When was the last time you smoked pot?”

“Plead the fifth.”

“I was in my teens,” Olivia admitted. She’d wanted to seem grown-up. It had mostly made her feel giggly. “I’m not ready for chemo, Fin.”

“I know.”

“It’s just….it’s not fair.” She shifted on the couch until she could rest her head against his shoulder. “I’m so tired of being the brave person who picks herself up after life punches her in the gut once again.”

“I know,” he repeated.

“Just one good thing. One. One thing outside of my career.” Olivia adjusted the blanket around her. “I don’t even have a person that’s mine.”

“And that is some bullshit.” Fin sealed the bag and tossed it onto the coffee table. “Make sure you hide those. I don't trust Stabler not to make a scene about you having this kind of relief.”

“It is some bullshit.”

“What about Cassidy?” Fin asked. “Haven’t seen him around in a while.”

“We wanted different things.” Olivia shrugged. She tilted her head to peer up at him. “Maybe you were right about not sleeping with people you work with.”

“Don’t listen to me. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m talkin’ about.” Fin rested his head back against the cushions. “You deserve better than some asshole cop, baby girl.”

“I only know asshole cops.” Olivia pointed out. “Besides, I’ve tried editors, reporters, and a district attorney. Pretty much all the same in the end.”

“Don’t give up yet, Liv.”

“On what? Asshole cops? Or myself?”

“Both.” Fin stared up at the ceiling.

Chapter Text

“You know, I never pictured Fin for being such a good organizer when it came to healthcare.” Nick sat across from her in the small waiting room. “He’s dedicated to making sure you’re all right. Shouldn’t that be my job? I was your partner.”

“Nick. Fin’s known me a long time.” Olivia had been surprised when Elliot hadn’t shown up but sent Nick in his place. Dickie had apparently gotten into a car accident so Elliot had spent his night in a different hospital. “You’re supposed to be helping me avoid stress. If this is your idea of a distraction, it sucks.”

“Sorry.” Nick shifted in the uncomfortable waiting room chair. “You have to admit he’s—”

“Can you go get me some tea?” Olivia wanted to be back home. She wished the chemo was over, waiting was the worst. Not knowing how badly the side effects were going to hit her. All of the unknowns. “And leave Fin alone.”

I don’t think I could’ve gotten through this without him.

Out of all of her friends who’d rallied around her, Fin had been the only one not adding pressure. Not forcing her to pretend to be positive. He’d been as solid as a rock for her.

“I’ll go see if you can have tea.” Nick patted her on the shoulder on his way out.

I don’t want tea.

I want you to go be nervous in another room because I’m scared enough for both of us.

Grabbing her phone, Olivia skimmed through her inbox. She read all the encouraging messages from her friends. Elliot sent her a photo of Dickie and his arm in a cast from apparently breaking it while saving someone from getting run over by a car.

Fin had promised to help her relax, which she took to mean he’d be bringing presents. She’d told him the doctor had offered her a prescription for medical marijuana. He’d told her not to ruin his fun.

Fun.

“Tea?” Nick offered her a little cup. “Saw the nurse in the hallway. Think they’re almost ready for you.”

“Wonderful.”

Despite her doctor warning her everyone’s chemo response was different, some experienced certain side effects while others didn’t. Olivia spent the first session and several hours panicking and searching the internet information. She’d chased Nick off when he’d tried to take her laptop from her.

Olivia was reading yet another personal chemo story when she heard her front door being unlocked. “I’m fine.”

Fin locked the door then came straight over to her. He grabbed her laptop, closed it then carried it over to put on top of her fridge. “I’ll retrieve it for you later.”

“Odafin Tutuola.”

“Careful, baby girl, you’ll make me feel things if you say my name lie that too often.” He grinned at her then came over to sit next to her on the sofa. “Heard from a little birdy that you had a rough day.”

“I was fine. Nick panicked. He was making me panic.” Olivia scratched at her elbow then dragged the blanket around her. “I mostly just feel tired. My doctor did say the chemo would be cumulative. I’ll likely feel worse as the treatments go on. Not exactly something to look forward to.”

“We’ll put Nick on food runs,” Fin promised. He adjusted her blanket for her. “There’s a reason his ass wasn’t supposed to be at the hospital with you.”

“It’s not Elliot’s fault his kid got hurt, Fin.”

“Should’ve called me.” Fin bent forward to grab the remote off the coffee table. “Got a new show you should watch.”

“I’m tired.”

“So? Take a nap while I watch. I ain’t going nowhere, baby girl. Because the second I do you’ll be on your laptop again trying to see how many ways you might die.” Fin grabbed the pillow she’d started keeping in the living room for when she napped on the couch. He placed it in his lap and patted it. “Park your head.”

“I wasn’t researching how I might die.” Olivia was definitely not sulking while she twisted around to stretch out on the sofa. “I was reading stories from people who’ve been through chemo so I know what to expect.”

“And did it do anything aside from making you worry?” Fin waited for a minute while she glared at the television in silence. “That’s what I thought.”

"Just feels like if I read enough stories about how they survive. Maybe I will as well." Olivia knew it wasn't necessarily logical but she couldn't help the compulsion to search and learn. "I'm going to lose my hair."

Fin glanced down at her then ran his fingers through her hair. "Still be beautiful."

 

 

Chapter Text

Cycles.

A word Olivia had never given much thought. It was just…a word. Cycles. One she’d used in daily life and never really considered.

Cycles.

Her chemo regime was weeks of cycles. One week of daily treatments followed by three weeks of nothing. Nothing but exhaustion, mild nausea, and hair loss. She had five of those cycles to repeat.

Her doctor seemed hopeful.

It was week three when her hair began to fall out. Olivia found clumps on her pillow. It came out in her brush and in the shower.

“Hey Liv?” Fin’s voice carried through her apartment. “LIv? Olivia?”

She couldn’t find words to answer him. She sat on the end of her bed with yet another clump of hair in her hands. Rafael had been by earlier. It had been his turn to try to lift her spirits.

The morning had been spent sharing tea (coffee for him) and pastries. Rafael told her all the bits of gossip from the DA's office. Carmen apparently kept her ear to the ground for him.

It was distracting. But her spirits remained where they were.

They all meant well.

She didn’t want her spirits lifted at the moment.

“Baby girl? I’m coming in.” Fin opened her bedroom door. He came over and sat next to her. “Amanda mentioned your hair situation to me yesterday.”

“Situation.” Olivia held the hair out toward him, watching strands slip through her fingers. “Fin.”

“I brought somethin’ to help.” Fin held up a bag. He pulled out an electric trimmer along with several attachments along with three headwraps and a couple of knitted beanies. The last item to come out of the bag was a small tub. “Moisturizing cream. Friend of mine’s wife swears by it to care for your scalp.”

“Fin.”

“Let me do this for you, Liv.” Fin picked up one of the beanies. “Kinda stylish.”

Olivia let the last of the hair fall out of her hand. He had a point. Why torture herself with this slow loss? It would be better to get it over with and this way she didn’t have to make a big deal about it. No going to the salon and getting pitiful looks from strangers. No having to do it herself and cutting her head up. “Okay.”

Despite the nerves fluttering around in her belly, Olivia followed Fin into her kitchen. They spread a towel on the floor then set one of her chairs on it. She sat and tried not to fidget while he screwed around with the trimmer.

Am I really going to do this?

It has to be better than waking up every morning wondering how much hair I’m going to encounter.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Olivia glanced nervously back at Fin. He gently turned her head to face forward. “How do you even know what to do?”

“I know stuff.”

“Fin.” She rolled her eyes.

“Friend of mine runs a barbershop. Had him show me the best way to do this.” Fin shrugged.  He put the largest attachment on the trimmer. “Going to shorten what you have first. Then I’ll go in for a closer shave.”

He said it so casually. Like it was nothing at all for him to have gone to a barbershop to get advice on shaving someone’s head. She pressed her lips together, trying to stave off the sudden influx of tears.

Olivia reached up blindly through her tears to grab his hand that was resting on her shoulder. “Thank you.”

It took thirty minutes.

Thirty minutes of Fin running the trimmer through her hair. He started with the largest attachment on the sides of her head. One pass. Then another. Olivia closed her eyes and focused the sounds. Not on the hair drifting down her body to the floor.

His hand on her was gentle and firm. He held her steady while removing the last hair from her head. She thought she felt the ghost of a kiss on top of her head.

“Hang on.” Fin gently swept the hair from her shoulders. He’d brought out her hairdryer and used it to clear her neck and face. “Got a dusting brush, should keep your neck from being itchy. You can put some of the lotion on your head.”

Unable to speak, Olivia found herself simply nodding in response. She wrapped her arms around herself. Too late to go back now. It’s done.

“You all right, Liv?”

Olivia shrugged. She went with the truth. “I don’t know.”

Standing up, Olivia made her way through the apartment. She wanted to see herself. See herself without hair.

It felt dramatic.

Olivia had the vaguest memory from childhood of Serena taking scissors to her hair. She remembered doing it herself after Lewis. No. No don’t think about that. Neither of those times had involved the gentle care Fin had shown. She stared at herself in the bathroom mirror. “Oh.”

She expected to drown in tears at the physical manifestation of what the medicine for her cancer was doing to her body.

She doesn’t.

There was sadness. And loss. But mostly she felt the love and warmth shown to her. He’d done a great job.

No stray pieces needing fixed.

It was perfect.

“How’d I do?” Fin leaned against the doorframe. “Gonna leave me a big tip?”

Olivia stepped over to him, gently brushing her lips against his in a mostly chaste kiss. “Thank you.”

 

Chapter Text

“We match.” Elliot bumped his head against hers then sat next to her in the waiting room. He stretched his legs out in front of him. “Looks better on you.”

“How is your head not cold all the time? I’m freezing.” Olivia shoved a beanie on her head every morning and kept it there most of the day. “I’m so tired.”

“Want a piggyback ride back to my jeep?” Elliot grinned when she threw a tissue at him. “Don’t litter.”

“You’re retired. Can’t fine me now.” Olivia bent down to pick the tissue up and put it into her pocket. “I am not having a piggyback ride.”

“Why? You might enjoy it.”

“El.”

It was the end of her second round of chemo. Olivia knew the exhaustion and nausea and pain were coming. The first week of no treatment always seemed to be the worst for her.

She was already exhausted yet still had several more cycles to go.

Coping.

She was coping. Badly.

“Hey, Liv?”

“Yeah?” She opened her eyes to stare at him.

“Can I rub your head for good luck?” Elliot grinned when she flipped him off. “That a no?”

“Think we can go home now.” Olivia glanced at her watch to find the thirty-minute waiting period had passed. The nurse usually let her handle the waiting and watching on her own. They’d settled into a routine at her oncologist’s office. “I’m hungry but afraid of what happens if the nausea kicks in.”

“Want a box of Skittles? You can see the—”

Olivia elbowed him the stomach as hard as she could manage, which wasn’t that hard at the moment. “I am not required to endure your shit dad jokes. I’m suffering enough as it is.”

“Damn, Liv. Harsh.” Elliot rubbed his side. He got to his feet then turned around to offer his hand. “Sure about the piggyback ride?”

Olivia grabbed his hand and let him help her stand. She leaned into him, letting him wrap his arm around her for support. “I can manage.”

“It’ll get better, Liv.” He kept a slow pace while they walked out of the waiting room.

Olivia waved at the nurse and promised to email any changes to her. “I know.”

“Puking rainbows might help.” Elliot chuckled.

“I will hurt you.”

“In your state?” He didn’t even grunt when she poked him in the side. “See what I mean?”

“Fin will hurt you if I ask.” Olivia knew he was trying to cheer her up. The first hours post-treatment were often the hardest for her. He was distracting her. “El? I’m okay. You can tone it down a notch.”

“Fine. Still holding out for the skittles.”

“You’re such an asshole,” Olivia repeated for what felt like the hundredth time since his return. She said it fondly, though. “Why did I miss you?”

“Good looks? Charm? My ability to carry you around?” Elliot continued listing increasingly ridiculous traits until she cracked a smile. “Tell you what. Why don’t we stop by the Chinese place near the precinct? Get some soup in you. That way….”

“Finish that sentence and I will find a way to end you painfully.” Olivia ignored his chuckling. “Soup sounds good.”

“Good.” Elliot helped her into his vehicle. He stood outside texting on his phone before moving around to the driver’s side. “Fin’s joining us.”

“Doesn’t he have work?”

“You ever known Fin to stick with anyone else’s schedule for him?” Elliot shoved the key into the ignition. “Think your lawyer friend might join us as well.”

“I don’t need cheering up.”

“Liv.” Elliot waited until she was looking at him to continue. “One of these days you’re going to realize we all care about you a great deal. We care. We love you. And we’re not leaving you to struggle through this shit by yourself.”

Chapter Text

The fourth cycle hit Olivia like a freight train. She had finished her week of treatment and hidden inside her apartment. She had no desire to go out.

Not to walk.

Not for fresh air.

Not for anything.

Her body ached in ways it hadn’t previously. Olivia was beyond exhausted. She didn’t want to think positively.

To be brave and strong.

If someone brought her one more pink ribbon, she was going to strangle them with it. She didn't want someone to do a walk for her. Or bring her anything other than maybe some relief for her pain.

The doctor hadn't wanted to prescribe something strong. She'd refused. It reminded her too much of Lewis.

And she certainly didn't have the strength to deal with recovering from cancer and processing trauma.

Olivia glanced over at her door when she heard a key in the lock. She wondered who it was this time. She had an idea. Fin.

“Heard you kicked Barba and Stabler out.” Fin had once again let himself into her place. He hadn’t blinked an eyelid at finding her huddled on the sofa, looking miserable with a jacket wrapped around her. His jacket. He’d left it at her place a week ago. “Want to talk about why?”

“No.”

“Want to smoke a blunt and act like we ain’t cops for half a second?” Fin took a seat beside her.

“Fin. My apartment can’t smell like weed. There are any number of detectives and an ADA in here. How would I explain?” Olivia hadn’t gotten around to getting her doctor to sign off on it. She kept forgetting.

“Figured. Got you some brownies instead.” Fin gestured to the Tupperware he’d dropped on the coffee table. “Mostly chocolate with a little bit of a special ingredient.”

They made their way through the entire container of brownies while arguing about which of their current and former colleagues were mostly like to get busted for public indecency. Fin had his money on Munch, Olivia tried very hard not to think about what that would entail. She put hers on Brian.

“Maybe I should put my money on Cassidy as well. What happened with you two?” Fin asked. He offered her the half of the last brownie.

“We wanted different things.” Olivia held the brownie chunk in her hand. She stared down at it, deciding for brutal honesty. She trusted Fin not to judge her too harshly. “I leaned on him. He was there for me after Lewis but….he couldn’t look at my body. My scars. Not without flinching.”

“That’s on him. Not you.”

As simple as that.

Apparently.

Olivia closed her eyes and let her head fall against his shoulder. “They don’t understand.”

“Who?”

“Rafa. El.” Olivia did feel bad for kicking them both out. Rafael after he’d brought breakfast and Elliot after lunch. “They want me to cling to hope.”

“But?”

“Some days I just want to be angry. Sad. I want to face the very real chance that the surgery and chemo might not be enough.” Olivia kept her eyes closed in the hopes of fighting against her tears. “My odds aren’t brilliant. Never have been. Look at where I come from? A drunk and a rapist. I wasn’t born out of or into love, Fin.”

She’d never really been told she was loved. Not as a kid. Rarely, if ever as an adult. She shook her head to try to clear her thoughts.

She was heading down a path she wasn’t emotionally strong enough to think about.

“I can be brave and strong and hopefully another day. Or another week.” Olivia continued. “I’m just tired.”

“Be whatever you need to be, baby girl.”

“You ever feel lonely? Like you’re never going to have someone in your life that’s yours?” Olivia couldn’t keep the question in. Her thoughts had grown too hazy.

“Not when I’m here.”

As simple as that.

Apparently.

 

Chapter Text

It was cold. Cold. Waking up shivering in her bed while covered by every blanket she owned wasn’t pleasant.

She hadn’t needed the call from the super to tell her the power was out. They were one degree away from icicles forming on her nose. No heat. It was less than ideal when she was cold even when the heat working.

Why did this have to happen now?

The super promised the power would be back within the next twenty-four hours. Someone had screwed something up. Olivia had stopped paying attention; her teeth had been chattering too loudly to hear him anyway.

I can’t stay here.

Thinking through her speed dial numbers, Olivia immediately disregarded most of her squad. They either lived too far away or were out of the city. Elliot had gone to visit with his kids and mom for a few days.

Olivia grabbed her phone and hit redial on the last number she’d called before going to sleep the night before. He answered after the sixth ring. “Fin?”

“What’s wrong?” Fin sounded half asleep still.

“Powers out.” Olivia felt bad for waking him up. “I….”

“Pack some shit to stay at my place. I’m on my way.” Fin hung up before she could respond.

Right.

Okay.

Pack some shit?

Forcing herself to get out of bed, Olivia slowly moved around her freezing cold room. She dressed in multiple layers. Her shoes were a particular problem since her fingers refused to cooperate.

Sneakers.

Where are my sneakers?

She found them on the other side of her bed. They weren’t meant for snow but at least she didn’t need to fumble around with a zipper or shoelaces since they were already tied. She shoved her feet into them.

What do I need for a night at Fin’s?

Unspoken dreams I never thought I’d fulfil in the worst scenario imaginable.

Stop thinking about it and pack.

With her fifth, and potentially last chemo cycle scheduled to begin in two days, Olivia threw a few changes of clothes into her bag. Just in case. She packed her toiletries as well. Her mind wouldn’t cooperate with her.

She couldn’t think.

Couldn’t figure out what to pack.

Twenty minutes later, Olivia huddled on her sofa. She tried not to think about the cold or the next round of chemo. Her attention drifted to the snow falling outside; it at least offered a slight distraction.

Olivia was afraid of what came after the last cycle. Would she go into remission? Would it come back? Could she go back to work after taking so much time off?

There had been weeks where she’d gone into the office. She’d managed a few hours each day then had gone home to try again the following week. Too weak or too nauseous or too exhausted. Was she ever going to feel like herself again?

Fin came into her apartment breathing heavily from having to race up her stairs. “Liv? You okay?”

“Fine.”

“You going to be able to make it down the stairs?” Fin came over and grabbed the bag she’d packed.

“I’ll manage.” Olivia pushed herself off the couch. “Maybe it’ll warm me up.”

“Got the car running downstairs. So I’ll get you warmed up.” Fin guided her out of the apartment. “Door locked?”

Olivia tried to get the keys into the lock. Her fingers trembled too much. “I can’t….”

“Here.” Fin gently covered her hands with his and moved them away from the door. He used his own set of keys to lock the door for her. “Let’s go.”

The stairs seemed to go on forever. Olivia did warm up a little in the process. She also had to stop to catch her breath and try not to get sick all over herself—or Fin.

“It’s taking me longer to get down these stairs than it did for you to drive all the way over here,” Olivia grumbled after stopping for the third time.

“Takes as long as it takes, baby girl. I’m not in a hurry.” Fin waited patiently for her to start walking again. “Glad you called me.”

“Because driving around in the middle of a winter storm is your idea of a good time?” Olivia almost cheered when she spotted the first-floor sign on the wall.

“Spending time with you is my idea of a good time.”

"Fin." Olivia wanted to believe her struggle for breath was just from the stairs and not his blunt honesty.

"A conversation for later." Fin pushed the door open for her. "Let me get you home. And warm."

 

 

Chapter Text

“Fin?” Olivia held up the edge of one of the fleece blankets that he’d buried her under the second they’d arrived at his apartment. “Why do you have all of these?”

The blankets didn’t match anything else in his apartment. His place was functional. Comfortable. Leather and strength—not super soft fleece.

“For you.” Fin brought over a mug of tea.

“For me?” Olivia soaked up the warmth from the mug and blankets. “Since when do you have tea at your place?”

Fin sat beside her on the sofa. He carefully adjusted her blankets. “For you. We got an echo ‘round here? Or did the cold mess with your head?”

“Funny.” Olivia sipped her tea. She wondered when he’d gotten it. “Thanks for coming to get me. And for the tea. Even if I know you don’t drink herbal tea ever.”

“Nah.”

“Fin.”

“Liv.

“Why do you have herbal tea in your house?” Olivia snuck her bare foot out from under the blanket and dug her toes into his thigh. She smiled when he tucked her foot back in. “Tea. Blankets. Almost like you expected me to spend time here. In your home.”

“Listen, baby girl. I ain’t tryin’ to do anything other than take care of you right now.” Fin covered her foot with his hand. He gently massaged it through the layers of blankets. “When you’re at full badass Benson strength, we can talk about how much time I want you to spend here.”

“One thing this journey has taught me is life’s too damn short to wait for the perfect moment. For full-strength anything.” Olivia couldn’t help glancing down at her stomach. “I waited for the right moment and now cancer stole even the dream of being pregnant from me.”

“Liv.”

“I know, I know adoption is a possibility. One I’m not against. But…I just waited so long for everything to come together in some perfect manner.” She swiped angrily at a stray tear. “Fuck.”

“I don’t wanna take advantage of you when all your strength should be focused on getting healthy.” Fin squeezed her foot lightly.

“And I’m trying to say that you wouldn’t be taking advantage of me.” Olivia took another sip of her tea. She didn’t have enough mental energy to formulate her feelings into words.

“Liv.” Fin shook his head at her. “Let me do right by you.”

“You have been.”

“You know what I mean, baby girl.” His hand felt warm on her foot even through the blankets. “How long have we worked together?”

“Long time.”

“Not interested in being the dude you kick out at three in the morning.” He laughed when she kicked his leg as best she could with his hand and blanket in the way. “I’m just saying.”

“Don’t be an asshole. That’s why we have Elliot.” Olivia knew both of them had gone through a series of casual relationships. Fun. Enjoyable. Never letting anyone really into their lives. “And you’re one to talk.”

“Fair enough.” Fin blocked her foot again. “Quit it. I’m saying I want this to be different. And I ain’t trying to start anything while you’re in and out of the doctor’s office.”

“What if this is all the time we get?” Olivia hoped for the best with the end of her chemo. She had to face the very real chance cancer might come back. “I can’t live on the fumes of lingering hope, Fin. I might have a year. I might have five years. I might go into remission and never need another surgery or round of chemo.”

“How am I supposed to romance you when you barely want to eat soup?” Fin grabbed her foot. “Will you stop kickin’ me just because I’m talking sense?”

“You’re tired. You need rest and to continue warming up. You’re gonna be sick for days starting tomorrow. I’m planning on doing right by you, baby girl. We ain’t wasting time—we’re taking things slow.” He eased his hold on her foot, shifting to her legs to drag her slowly into his lap. Her head easily found his shoulder to rest against. “You let me worry about whatever this is. I can get creative. Might have to chase off the other assholes trying to weasel back into your life.”

“You called him, Fin.”

“I can send his ass back just as easily.”

Chapter Text

“Olivia?” Rafael found her in the cribs. She’d gone to rest her eyes for a few minutes. “Why don’t you let someone take you home?”

“I just need a moment to close my eyes. I can work.” Olivia lay flat on her back on the uncomfortable mattress. “I can work.”

“Liv.”

“I can work,” she insisted again.

She had to be able to work. It had been months. She was terrified of being forced to turn in her papers because of her health.

There were rumors patience was running low amongst the brass. She had to get back into the swing of things. No matter how exhausted she was.

“Liv. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.” Rafael tried a different tactic. “You’re not going to lose your job.”

“I will if I don’t get back to work.” Olivia made herself sit up. It took almost all of her energy. “Shit.”

“Let me get, Fin.”

“He’s busy.” Olivia knew the minute Fin saw her. He’d be taking her home, immediately. “Rafa. I’m fine.”

“You just finished your last round of chemo. Each one had taken more out of you than the last. Olivia. It is okay to admit that you’re tired. You’re worn out. You need rest.” Rafael sat beside her on the bed. “What are you afraid of?”

“What if they force me to retire?”

“They won’t.”

“What if they do?” Olivia wanted a real gut check from Rafael. Not platitudes of hope.

“Then you retire. We fight for you to get your full pension.” Rafael gave her what she wanted. And the truth hurt more than the lies of hope had. “There are other ways to help survivors of sexual assault, Liv. Being a detective is only one way. There are foundations. Charities. A whole host of places you can be a force for good. You don’t have to do it with a badge.”

“The badge is all I’ve had.” Olivia touched her shield clipped to her belt. “It’s been my life. My family. Everything is wrapped up in this job.”

“And maybe that’s the problem?”

Olivia shrugged. She didn’t know how to respond.

“You aren’t going to lose any of us if you do retire. Squabbling until we’re eighty-five, remember?” He nudged her with his elbow. “Family, Liv. Tú eres me familia. We’ll be squabbling into our nineties.””

“Of course, we will.”

If I make it until then.

Don’t think about the cancer coming back.

“Go home.” Rafael tried again.

“I’m fine. We have a case to solve.”  Olivia pushed herself to her feet. She managed to stay on them without dropping back to the bed.

I should be home. He’s right. I just….I can’t.

Without saying another word, Rafael stood up and walked out of the cribs. Olivia sighed. She knew he worried.

All of them worried about her.

Her final round of chemo had hit hard. She’d taken a few days to rest up. Amanda had made the mistake of talking about their current case; a particularly difficult one. Murphy was butting heads with Nick and Fin.

She’d made the decision to return to work. No one had been happy to see her. Not really. The squad wanted her home resting; their deputy chief seemed particularly displeased by her presence.

Olivia took a few steps then had to sit on one of the beds. “Damn it. I can do this.”

Closing her eyes for a few minutes, Olivia found herself thinking about life before. Before Lewis. Before her cancer diagnosis. Before her entire world had been turned upside down. She pinched the bridge of her nose in an attempt to stave off tears.

I am not sobbing in the damn precinct.

“What the hell are you doing, baby girl?”

Olivia kept her eyes closed. She knew he’d see the tears that hadn’t fallen yet. “Taken a second to rest.”

“I’m taking you home.”

“I’m fine.” Olivia shook her head.

“No, no you ain’t. You’re exhausted. And in tears.” Fin crouched in front of her. He rested his hands on her knees. “How much pain are you in? Doc said this time might be the worst of all. I’m taking you home.”

“Fin.”

“Not up for debate.”

Olivia opened her eyes to scowl at him. He wasn’t moved in the slightest. Fin rarely showed his stubborn streak. He was too chill for that but when motivated; nothing was going to change his mind. “I can rest here just as much as I can in my apartment. People can keep an eye on me here.”

“You really think I’m fool enough for that to work on me, Benson?” Fin got to his feet. He lifted her up off the bed and wrapped his arm around her waist, holding her against him. “I’m taking you to my place. You’re going to rest. I’m gonna take care of you.”

“Fin.”

“You want to spend time arguing? Or save your energy for walking out of the precinct with your head held high?” Fin proved, once again, how well he knew her. “That’s what I thought. Let me get you home.”

 

Chapter Text

Three months had passed since her last chemo treatment. Olivia was sitting outside of her doctor’s office. She’d had her follow-up visit.

She’d been terrified of getting her test results back. So anxious she’d wanted to go alone. She hadn’t told anyone the date of the appointment to avoid them insisting.

It was a beautiful spring day. Olivia sat on a bench outside of the hospital and just breathed in the air. Just breathed. She almost regretted not telling Fin about the appointment.

The squad was working on a case at the moment. It had made sneaking out easy. Plus, Elliot had gone to the beach to spend time with his mom, again. No one had been there to notice when she ducked out of the precinct.

Olivia slumped down on the bench. She tilted her face toward the sun with her eyes closed. She’d always enjoyed the city in spring.

“Tea?”

Olivia opened her eyes to find Fin standing over her with a cup held out to her. “Hello.”

“Snuck out while we weren’t watching?” He sat beside her. “I told Barba you had a doctor’s appointment coming up. Just because you didn’t write it on that calendar on your fridge.”

Olivia took a sip of the tea he’d brought. It was perfect. Just the way she preferred it. “I didn’t want to have an audience for bad news.”

“And was it bad news?”

“No.” Olivia couldn’t hide her relieved smile. “Good news. No signs of the cancer having returned. The tests they did last week. They all came back clear. I’m…cancer-free.”

“Cancer free.”

“There’s a chance it comes back. I have a follow-up visit in three months. Then if it’s all clear, once again in six months after that.” Olivia barely had a chance to react when Fin yanked her into a hug. She held her tea away from them to keep it from spilling. “Fin?”

Fin eased back. His hand came up to gently glide up her neck to rest on her head. He adjusted the beanie she was wearing. “I told myself I had to wait until you were recovering.”

“Wait for—” Olivia was cut off by his lips gently brushing against hers.  She melted into him when his arm wrapped around her, drawing her closer. She felt him grin against her lips when she moaned before he pulled back. “Fin. I wouldn’t have gotten through this without you.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, baby girl.”

“I’m serious. You’ve been my rock.”  Olivia glanced down at her cup, picking at the lid. “I guess this means things go back to normal.”

“Normal?”

“Work. Life. No more late nights arguing about why a movie is terrible.” Olivia laughed when he adjusted the beanie on her head. “I’m going to miss you.”

Miss him even though they’d spend time at work. Olivia didn’t really expect him to continue showing up at her place every night. He’d always been such a private person; she didn’t think he’d want her invading his space now that she was no longer potentially dying.

“That wasn’t a last kiss, baby girl.” Fin said confidently after coming in for another kiss. “That was a ‘this is all I can do in a public place’ sort of kiss. You really think I’m gonna just stop showing up for you? What kind of punk do you think I am?”

“Fin.”

“I ain’t going anywhere, Liv.”