Once again, I feel I must apologize. High school is turning out to be harder than I thought. Anyway, since there is so much time between updates, I should give a brief recap of what's happened so far.

PREVIOUSLY ON LAW AND ORDER: SVU— (I've always wanted to say that...) Olivia is kidnapped by the leader of a child-selling ring. He tortures her for the whereabouts of his escaped "property", but she refuses to tell. While there, she meets a 4-year-old named Dominic. Elliot rescues her and Dominic, and Olivia decides to try to adopt the boy, but there are legal complications involving his old foster mother. After much investigating, they find the perpetrator, Masters. He tries to shoot Stabler, and Liv takes the bullet. She ends up in a coma, which Elliot wakes her from, after which they kiss (quite cheesily, I might add).

Sorry, that was kinda long. Anyway, I think I'll start off with showing the other characters' perspective on all of this. I own nothing. On with the show!

The sixteenth precinct was strangely, unnervingly quiet. A black hole had swallowed the entire building, and the silence was getting louder by the minute. At the center of the black hole were two empty desks, which seemed to glare at the solemn detectives. The absence of those by whom the desks were usually occupied was so blatantly obvious, it was slowly driving them all mad. The only question was, who would be the first to succumb to the hysteria threatening to take over the area?

As if in answer to this unspoken question, Fin Tutuola slammed his fist on his own desk, the loud SLAM shattering the carefully preserved silence.

"I can't take much more of this, Munch!" he exclaimed. Everyone but Elliot had been forced to return to work, as they had no idea when Benson would be waking up.

"I know," his partner replied, his sarcastic tone not quite as snarky as usual. "I'm getting too old for this."

"You and me both, and I'm not nearly as old and decrepit as you," Fin replied. Several officers laughed, but they quickly stopped when they realized that Olivia's own lighthearted chuckle was nowhere to be found.

Captain Cragen watched all of this with a weary sadness in his eyes. Until now, they hadn't realized just how important Olivia's role was to the one-six. She truly was the heart of the precinct, the glue that held them together. Whether it was her input on a case, her sympathy with a victim, or even a simple joke or a smile, she was what kept them going. She was the reason they could see the horrors that they saw on a daily basis and still get up every morning. They needed her.

The Captain was startled out of his reverie by his ringing phone, and he hastened to answer it. The detectives who were shamelessly eavesdropping outside his office only caught snippets of the conversation.

"Captain Cragen...Yes...Of course...That's wonderful, we'll be right there...Thank you." Cragen hung up the phone and shouted for Fin and Munch, who arrived impossibly fast.

"What's up, Capt?" Fin asked anxiously. "Is Liv...?"

"She's fine. She's better than fine." Cragen felt a real smile grace his features for the first time in days. "She's awake."

Casey Novak was pacing inside the pristine hallways of the courthouse, the loud clicking of her heels only adding to her anxiety. She had spent hours preparing for this VERY SPECIAL case, and now all she could do was wait. The ADA jumped slightly when her phone rang, which she was quick to answer.

"This is Novak," she greeted shortly.

"Casey, it's Don."

"Captain Cragen? Is there any news?" A burning fear flared up in her chest. Had something happened?

"Yes, there is news...good news, in fact! Liv jus woke up!"

"Really? Oh, thank God!" Relief spread through her body, quelling her previous anxieties...most of them, anyway.

"Fin, Munch, and I were just about to head to the hospital. Should we come pick you up?"

"No, thanks. I've got work to do right now."

"Are you sure? Can't it wait until tomorrow?"

"No, not this," she sighed, even though she wanted more than anything to be with her friend. "I'm doing this for Liv."

For a while, Elliot and Olivia just stared at each other, their faces still only centimeters apart after their long-awaited kiss. Their eyes were dancing and shimmering with happiness as they studied each other carefully, neither one willing to break the companionable silence between them. Elliot traced his thumb under her cheek, where her bruise had almost completely faded. He was the first to speak.

"I've wanted to do that for so long," he whispered.

"I couldn't agree more," she said, smiling that playful half-grin he knew and loved. "Was it as wonderful as you imagined?"

"Even better. This time, it was real."

"Are you sure?" she asked. "How do you know it's real? How do you know we aren't dreaming?"

"Ouch! What was that for?" Elliot exclaimed. She had reached over and pinched his arm, hard.

"Nope. We're awake!"

"I'm sure there's a much less painful way to arrive at that conclusion!" he said indignantly, rubbing his arm.

"Like what?"

"Like this..."

He leaned forward and captured her lips with his once again. They broke apart when they heard loud footsteps in the hallway and remembered they were in a hospital. A nurse entered the room, and did a double-take.

"You're awake!" she said, consulting her chart. "Dr. Reilly didn't expect you to regain consciousness today!"

"Well, I was rudely awakened by my partner here," she said, playfully slapping Elliot's arm with the little strength she had in her limbs.

"I'll get you some ice. I'm sure you're thirsty. In the meantime, you should try to get some rest," the nurse said, ignoring Olivia's exasperated expression and leaving the room.

"You heard the lady. Get some sleep, Liv."

"Please, Mom, five more minutes?" she whined sarcastically. Then the humor left her eyes and she looked almost frightened.

"What's wrong, Liv? Are you in pain?" he asked anxiously.

"No, it's just, I...ah, never mind..." He raised his eyebrows, and she relented. "It's stupid, I know, but I'm afraid that if I close my eyes, I won't be able to wake up. Or worse, I'll find out that all this was just a dream..." She trailed off, avoiding his gaze.

"Hey," he said, lifting her chin lightly. "It's okay to be a little paranoid sometimes. Heck, I just about went insane in the last day or so. What's important is that you know I'm here for you."

She nodded wordlessly and shifted into a more comfortable position while he sat down in the chair by her bed. She lay motionless for a while, staring at the blank wall opposite her, but every time she closed her eyes, she saw Masters with a gun pointed at Elliot, then at Charlie, then at Dominic. Realizing her efforts were futile, she gave up on the premise of sleep.

"El?" she asked quietly, hoping he wasn't asleep himself.

"Yeah, Liv?"

"There's no way I'm getting to sleep."

He shifted so that he could take her hand again, and rubbed soothing circles on her palm.

"What's wrong? I know there's something bothering you, besides the obvious."

"Well, I have a question, actually. Elliot, was I...I mean..." She stumbled over her speech, trying to form coherent sentences. "Did I...die?"

Elliot was taken aback at the question.

"Well, I mean, the doctor said they lost you a couple times in the ambulance, as well as the OR." He cleared his throat, not wanting to remember seeing her lifeless form in the warehouse. "How did you know?"

"I had these...dreams..." she said carefully. "If you were anyone else, I wouldn't be telling you this, because I don't want people to think I'm losing it, but... They weren't really dreams. They were more like visions. I saw a bunch of victims for whom we found justice, and I saw..." Her throat constricted at the thought of the two innocent little girls. "I saw Gracie and Cecilia. They said that Masters had them killed after I left. It was my fault, Elliot. I shouldn't have left them!"

"No, no, Olivia," Elliot whispered. "It wasn't your fault."

She tried to wipe a tear from her eye, but the movement caused her to groan involuntarily as she moved her abdomen. Elliot caught the tear instead, and his thumb lingered on her cheek for a moment before he continued.

"Did you see anyone else?"

"Yeah. I saw my mom." Elliot tensed slightly, having recently been told of what Serena Benson did to her daughter. "She didn't try to apologize or anything, she just wanted to tell me that I needed to go back to the land of the living. She said that Dominic...needed me." This time there was a new kind of regretful silence in the room.

"Liv, did something happen?" Elliot asked, noting the sudden change.

"When Casey came to talk to us right before Masters shot me, she had some news about Dominic," she said sadly. "His former foster mother—the woman who allowed Mike Quinby to sell Dominic—is applying for custody, and... Elliot, it looks like she might get it."

Elliot saw a deep, overwhelming sadness in his partner's eyes. He recognized that look. It was the same defeated expression she had worn when Vivian took Calvin from her. Truthfully, Elliot felt depressed as well; he had really grown to love that little boy over the past few days. He pulled Olivia into a careful hug.

"Liv, it's okay. We'll fight for Dominic, as soon as we get out of here."

Before she could reply, there was a knock on the door. Elliot told them to enter, and Captain Cragen stepped into the room. The moment he saw Olivia awake, a smile spread across his previously grim face.

"Hey, Liv," he said softly. "How're you feeling?"

"Like I've been shot," she rasped truthfully, but she was smiling slightly as well.

"Well, that's understandable, I suppose," he said, still smiling. "You do realize that if you ever scare us like that again, I'll have to fire you?"

"I'll keep that in mind next time someone takes a shot at me," she said, rolling her eyes. "Captain, has the warehouse been searched yet?"

"Yes," Cragen said grimly, his mouth a tight line.

"Did you find any...bodies?"

"Two. Both children," he replied. "The first was a—"

"—Cecilia Halter, age seventeen?" she interrupted. "And the other girl was Grace Davis, age eleven?"

"Well, yes, that's right. How did you...?"

"They told me."

The Captain seemed to understand immediately, for he nodded and didn't press the subject.

"Well, I should let John and Fin come in before you fall asleep," he said, standing up. "Take care of yourself, Benson."

"Always do," she responded lightly. "Well, most of the time..."

The moment the Captain left, Munch and Fin burst through the door.

"Hey, Baby-girl!" Fin exclaimed cheerfully.

"Liv! Welcome back to the land of the living!" Munch added. "What happened? Couldn't pay the ferryman?"

"Oh, you know me, John," Olivia replied. "They thought I'd be too much trouble, so they sent me back."

The three of them laughed, and Fin clapped her lightly on the shoulder.

"Get some rest, Baby-girl. We'll come back tomorrow."

"You take care of her, Stabler," Munch said, following his partner out the door. Elliot nodded seriously.

"I will."

Olivia was lying in the uncomfortable hospital bed, fighting sleep. After being roused from nightmares twice, she was unwilling to give in to the beckoning of sleep. Soft knocking on the door brought her back to reality.

"Come in," she called weakly.

The door opened to reveal Casey Novak, a small smile on her face.

"Hey, Olivia. I'm glad you're awake," she whispered. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm feeling better, Case. I wish they'd let me go home."

"Well, I think I've got something that'll make you feel even better," Casey said, her smile growing wider. She walked out the door, leaving a confused Olivia to wonder what was going on. The door opened again, and Casey walked in, holding the hand of a little boy.

"Dominic?" Olivia whispered.

Casey smiled at her questioning gaze.

"He's yours now, Liv."

Hooray for Dominic and Olivia! Please review!

Oh, and I have an important question. Should I start to wrap this up, or should I begin a new plot? And if I continue, do you think it should be in a sequel? It just seems like this story is coming to a close, so I wanted to know your opinions.