It All Began With a Kiss.
At one time Sami had loved the Christmas holidays so much, but after the year that she’d had, somehow she wasn’t looking forward to things quite so much.
First of all, on New Year's day, she was supposed to have been spending it with her Aunt and Uncle who hadn't been able to make to her mom's for Christmas day itself, but then they had sent her a message via a friend of theirs to say that her Aunt had been taken ill with one of her migraines and had to cancel, and had then in not so many words had told her that not only did she do it, but the rest of the family did as well taking her Aunt for granted whenever they wanted something done because they knew that she would get whatever it was done for them, and never really thanked her properly for doing it, leaving Sami reeling, but also very much upset.
Yes, she and her Aunt had been very close ever since she was little, but she never really thought that she took her for granted, and only asked her for help if anyone else that she had gone to didn't know how they could help, and ever since her move to New York she had seemed to become the one that everyone had come to her for legal advice at least, because of her job as a personal assistant to an ADA in the homicide department, they had come to her over legal matters to get recommendations for people to go to and help them with whatever problem they were having was because of where she worked, and yes that had included doing it for her Aunt and Uncle too.
A few weeks after that she went down with a throat infection that seemed to be going around the office and of course had to take time off, seeing as she needed her voice for her job with answering phones and talking to people most of the time, which she couldn't do when she hardly had any voice for most of the time.
Even though she had gone to the doctor over it and had had antibiotics for it, and then returned to work when she was feeling better once again, a few weeks later she went down with it again, not quite so bad, but still, it was enough to keep her off work again for a couple of days.
And so it went on, even if the time between attacks of it did get longer in their periods between each one, and by the end of the summer she was truly fed up with it, so after finally getting an affirmative diagnosis of the infection being seated in her tonsils, and then talking things over with her boss, she then had a month off so that she could go into hospital and have her tonsils out, and have the rest that she needed.
On the day that she went into the hospital for the operation, she ended up being surprised when one Rafael Barba turned up on her doorstep.
When she had first begun her job, they had just seen each other around the DA's office and only really acknowledged each other every so often, but they had never really talked until she had been there for a couple of months or so. She never knew why it was because even though she wasn't exactly outgoing or rather when she was younger she was very shy and wouldn't talk that much to anyone other than members of her family and friends that she had at school, and she would never speak out in front of her classes unless she was forced to do so. It had been doing jobs like hairdressing and working in retail while sat college and university that had bought her out of her shell a lot more, but she did still struggle sometimes in social situations and would just speak to people that she knew. Or it could just be that she would admit that she just may have got a small crush on him, which may not have helped things!
They had finally spoken when she had been delivering something to a junior ADA that was going to be working with her boss in the next case coming to court and he'd got an office on the same floor where Barba's office was. She had arrived at the elevator at the same time as he had as she was heading back to her office, and they had then ended up getting it to themselves, and at first, the two of them had remained quiet until he finally introduced himself to her properly, and as she had responded by telling him her name, she had tried to hide the way she had gone weak at the knees because of the way he had said "Rafael Barba."
After that, she found that they had begun to have just little conversations if they ever ran into each other around the office or at court if there had been any occasions when she'd had to go and give her boss any important phone messages or paperwork that may have come in concerning the case that he was working on at the time.
One day she had found herself in his courtroom because the defendant in his case with the SVU had also been charged with some charges that weren’t connected to the SVU case, but the DA was still pushing for those charges to be pushed through, even if there was a guilty verdict in the SVU case. Some urgent paperwork had come through for that case, and knowing that he was in the courtroom keeping an eye on the case, she had sneaked in the back and had quietly given it to him. He had told her that he was going back to the office to look through it and as she had gone to go with him, he had told her to stay there and tell him what had happened when she got back to the office once the court had gone into recess.
She had been fascinated watching Barba at work and the way that he was around the courtroom and when the man had taken the stand in his own defense, she had found herself wishing that she had taken the bar and become a lawyer, except of course she wished that she wouldn't have ever been against Barba as she knew she would have never won against him, although she did find it pretty hot when Barba finally got his man when he began to pick holes in his supposed alibi that the man had stuck with throughout the trial, and in a matter of moments it was all broken down and thrown out of the window.
As Barba had taken his seat at the end of it and from the angle she had been sitting at, she couldn't help the smile that had come to her lips when she spotted the satisfied smirk that he had got on his face, knowing that he had got his job done. Although she was also quite surprised that when the judge had called the recess and as she was going to get back to tell her boss what had happened, Barba had caught her up and he had got her a coffee from one of the carts outside the courthouse, as she thought that he'd be staying around to talk to the members of the SVU squad that had also been there in the courtroom.
On the day of her operation and she opened the door to find him on her doorstep she was surprised, because yes he had been there checking up on her when he had found out that she was off sick, even when she had told him the first time he'd turned up on her doorstep to find out how she was, that he didn't have to be there and end up getting the bug off of her, especially as he would be needing his voice for court, but he wouldn't have anything to do with her trying to push him away and he had just gently pushed past her into her apartment, then had told her to go and lie down on the sofa that she had been vegging out on, while he got some things sorted out. The next thing she knew was after hearing the microwave ding, a few minutes later he was there with a bowl of soup, which was gorgeous. He would also tell her not to try talking and save her voice, and in the end, he would just give her a look and she’d close her mouth. Although one day he had made her smile when he had told her to use a pad and paper or even send a message via text on her phone, so she had got her phone out and had sent him a text saying just for a joke ‘So are you paying my phone bill when it costs so much because I’ve sent so many texts?’ To which he had answered with an eyebrow raise and smirk.
She had been planning on telling him that she was in hospital, but only after she’d had the operation, because it was the way that she had wanted things, seeing as with things like that she had always seemed to want to stay quiet, which had stemmed from things that had happened in her childhood, and with the way that everything had been so fragile with her family since the New Year stuff, she had just got it into her head that it was easier to go it alone with only her boss knowing what was going on, even if there was a part of her that did desperately want someone to be there for her, as yes she was a bit afraid of what could happen. Which stemmed from her having had a general anesthetic when she was a child, as what she had been told was that it would be like she had been drinking alcohol, so she wouldn't remember anything about being bought round until it had completely worn off. Even today she could still remember the odd bits and pieces that had happened as her family had bought her home, and the things that had happened as she did finally come round properly, so she was slightly afraid of feeling like that all over again, so in some ways, she was feeling happy that there he was on her doorstep, so with that she stepped aside for him to come in, but sensing that there was some tension in the air, she said: "You know I'm glad that I've now had a key cut for you so that you can let yourself in here."
He turned with a surprised look on his face and then said: "So why didn't you tell me about the hospital and that you'd got the next month off?"
She responded "I know it's stupid, but I just always feel like I need to do things on my own, don't get me wrong I know that we've become close friends and everything and that I've told you about my family issues, but there is so much more that I haven't said. Part of which I won't go into with you now, but let's just say that because of what has happened, I find it hard to trust people as even when I've let them in and have given my trust to them, they've let me down in some very big ways, so it's just not you because I do always have that fear of being let down yet again when it happens… but of course, as my thoughts have been wandering this morning, all I've thought about is why haven't I told him? Because of the feeling that I just needed someone to be with me."
"You should have told me, but I can understand what's happened, but I promise you that I would never break your confidence in any way, whatever private things you tell me will stay that way unless of course, you do tell me that I can say something. So what is happening today?"
She answers "Well, I'm due to go in at ten and surgery is scheduled for eleven, if all goes well and I don't have any problems with the anesthetic during the operation or when I come round from it, then they should release me later on this evening, if not then it will be the morning. After that, I'll just be allowed soft foods and only allowed to start eating properly once again when I'm given the all-clear at the check-ups."
“Ok, I’ll call the car service to pick us up from here, because I will be coming with you. I’ll be able to stay until you come back from the operation if it doesn't take too long, but I will have to leave you for the afternoon because I’m due in court for a sentencing hearing, but then I will be back to bring you back home again, and I do mean it this time if you’re not allowed to speak after it for however long they say you will have to write everything down or send a text. Also if you do want anything when I’m at work just send a text, and I’ll be here when I can get here, I promise you.”
As things went the operation did go very well, but after that Sami began to notice that through the time that she and Rafael spent together and had begun to get to know each other more, they were beginning to grow closer to each other. Especially as they began to notice that in some ways they were quite different, but in others, they were so much the same, but what she loved so much was the way that seeing each other around the office she saw what she called the 'at work' Barba, except for when they had the chance of getting moments on their own and she would visibly see that wall come down, only to go instantly back up again if someone joined them, and then the gentler side of him that came out when they were together out of office hours when she got the 'at home' Barba side of him.
After having met Lucia at Halloween, because she did as she normally did through being involved in a couple of children’s charities, one that granted wishes for terminally ill children and another for children who were carers for their parents or helped their parents with sick or disabled siblings. Where the two groups combined for a big children’s party in one of the charity founders apartment buildings, where they had a big room that was hired out, but they were allowed to use it for nothing. As they would also have a big group of helpers at the party, during the evening they would take small groups of kids around the apartment building for trick or treat, where it could be done in safety.
Just before the event she had got an apartment full of sweet treats and small toys to go into the party bags that they also gave out to the children, and she ended up getting a bit behind on getting them all ready in time for the party, so Rafael had helped her do some whenever he was round hers, but in the end, he had Lucia to help, and she had also helped at the party too.
To their surprise he had also turned up partway through the evening as well, seeing as he had just said that he would come and help, but only if he could.
When he did turn up Sami had already gone around with her group of children on the trick or treating, so she was sitting on the floor with Annabel on her lap doing a puzzle on the small puzzle table they had, and just sensed when the door opened that it was Rafael that had walked in, so looked up and they had smiled at each other.
At the end of the party, they all stayed around to help with the clearing up, before the three of them had then gone off for something to eat together. After having taken Lucia home and the two of them were alone in the car together he had said to her "Just to warn you, I think she may have ideas about getting the two of us together now." To which she had just laughed it off, but in the next few weeks she kept noticing that if she and Lucia met up because of Lucia having made the suggestion, at some point or other Rafael would turn up, and she would then disappear off leaving the two of them alone.
In time though she did begin to wonder if perhaps she was beginning to fall in love with Rafael, because after having found out that like him she loved going to the theatre, but hadn't gone much recently because her friend Heidi that she used to go to shows and plays with had got married during the summer of the year before, and just a few weeks before she had gone into hospital for her operation, Heidi had given birth to her first child Bryony, so of course the two of them would probably not be doing any theatre shows for a while now because of it and he had found out that she hadn't gone on her own because she preferred to be with someone. One day he had suggested the two of them going together instead and she had readily agreed to it.
Since then they had been to a few things together, but following Halloween and Lucia making her attempts at trying to get the two of them together. She had begun to notice that all of a sudden their theatre dates had begun to take on more of a dating feel to her, with them going to dinner first before they went onto whatever it was they were going to be seeing. Then one night their night at the theatre was disturbed by him getting a call to say that he was needed at SVU, when she made the suggestion that they go another time he wouldn’t hear of it and he ensured that she still went and that his car service was there to pick her up and take her home afterward. Then the next morning she was even more surprised to find a bunch of flowers sitting on her desk when she arrived at work the next morning with an apology for what had happened the night before.
Along with that a few of her work colleagues kept commenting that there had to be someone that was making her happy because she’d been looking a lot happier, and even as she tried to deny it, she knew that she was flushing because of the way that her thoughts were instantly going to Rafael and she could feel how her cheeks were reddening. Even her boss had commented one day about it because she had gone to get herself and him a coffee, and while she'd been waiting for them Rafael had sent her a text asking if she was free that night because Lucia had asked them out for a meal, plus she was asking him if Sami would like any help with the charity stuff she'd be up to with the kids with the Christmas period coming up. So she had headed back to her desk with a smile on her face as she'd replied that she was free that night, and had had a response saying that he would pick her up at seven that night.
That night she had been even more surprised when he had excused himself to use the bathroom, Lucia had then turned to her and had told her that she’d got her blessing to date her son if it was what she truly wanted, because she had not seen him as happy as he had been in the last few months, and she knew that it had been Sami that had been making him just as happy as she had been looking whenever he was around her.
As Christmas was edging ever closer and the two of them still hadn’t said anything to one another, she was beginning to think that perhaps she might get the chance at one of the Christmas parties that were coming up, as she knew that that would be her final chance to say something because as soon as they’d had their last day in the office before just a skeleton crew would be on to cover the holiday period, Rafael would be off on his usual vacation skiing somewhere for his Christmas and New Year.
The first of the parties would be at the precinct where the SVU squad, a couple of the other teams that the DA’s office worked with there and also the behind the scenes teams all got together and the second party would be at the DA’s office for all the staff there.
Each year that she had been working there, she had ended up just putting in an appearance at the both of them, because with not being that outgoing it was one of the things that she didn't like doing that much, so she wouldn't stay around for that long if she turned up at all. Plus her other reason for not staying around at events like that had also stemmed from a works do many years ago while she was at college and working in retail when they had gone out for their works do, and because she wasn't that much of a drinker anyway, the team had tried to get her drunk. All along she'd had a feeling about what they might be trying to do even before they had met up, because of the way that small conversations were going on and were quickly shutting down if she went anywhere near. When they'd first arrived she'd had a drink, and when it was her round next she had just got herself a cola. She'd then had another drink and once again had requested a cola, but as soon as she'd tasted it she knew that they had put some Bacardi into it. After that, she had foiled their game though, because she had then made sure that she got a drink for herself in enough time to turn down whoever it was that had the next turn to get the drinks. She'd also had the last laugh the next morning when they'd had to be in very early for the delivery of stock, and out of all of them was the only one with a clear head! So she was always on guard at any work functions in case someone did attempt doing it again, especially as she had to be careful anyway with alcohol because depending on what the drink was it had been known to give her an allergic reaction migraine, so she preferred to know what exactly it was that she had a choice of drinking.
At the party in the precinct, she found herself enjoying things, and she didn't mean for it to happen but had ended up just sticking to cola, and even without having had any alcohol for the first time to anyone she let things slip about her feelings for Rafael to both Rollins and Carisi, but she didn’t mind that because she and Amanda had been friends for a while, even though they weren’t exactly close it was still enough to say that they were friends.
With Carisi they had been friends since just before he had joined the SVU squad, because when he had been at Fordham Law, a cousin that she was close to had been there at the same time, and on some occasions she had had to go and pick up Jane up, which had been how she and Sonny had met.
The admission to Amanda had come about because Sami had been the one to arrive first, and after a while, she had begun to look round each time someone walked into the room where the party was being held as the room was slowly getting filled up with people when Amanda had come up behind her and had said: "Are you looking for someone in particular?" But to that, she had only just shrugged her shoulders as her answer.
Then after Rafael had finally arrived they’d said “Hi” to one another and he’d then said that he would just go and get a drink and some food, then the two of them would talk, but as soon as he got to the food and drink table, various people kept cornering him leading him having to talk to them.
On one of the occasions it happened again, she was just laughing and smiling at him when someone else caught him, and he just looked her way, mouthed an apology and rolled his eyes. The next thing she knew was the feeling of being dragged into the nearest room as Amanda said rather incredulously “You and Barba have feelings for one another?!”
Taken a bit by surprise she responds, “What, no I don’t think so.”
“Oh come on, you can’t deny it Sam, the two of you have been close for a while now, and even if you had agreed to speak to one another here, that look and apology to you because he got dragged off again there was something more there, come on tell the truth is there something going on, and if there is you know that I would be here for you, and I wouldn’t tell anyone unless you said I could.”
Just as she’s about to answer Carisi walks in and says “What’s she not going to tell anyone?”
As she rolls her eyes at him he then adds “you know you’ve just been around Barba for too long, because you’re slowly picking up his habits.”
With that, she and Amanda look at one another and just burst out laughing, and then once they settle down she smiles and responds finally to Amanda as she says "Don't you dare say anything Sonny Carisi, because otherwise, I will kill you. Yes, I do have feelings for him, and have done for a while now; it’s just trying to work out how to tell him.”
Amanda says "You should go for it, especially as you both work in the same office and work within different departments, so at least the two of you won't have to declare anything unless of course there's a chance that they move you for some reason into the same department, and you know the both of you do deserve some happiness, and you can tell that he does care for you."
Carisi then adds "That he does as even if he was trying to hide it when you had your operation and when you were recovering from it, you could tell that he was worried about you. If you're going to try and talk to him I would do it pretty soon, seeing as he'll go and see Lucia once the DA's office party is out the way and then he'll be off for his Christmas break, wherever it is that he's going this year, so you won't get another chance to speak to him until after he gets back again. Whatever happens though, just remember that we will always be here for you.”
As he then gives her a hug she leaves it with telling them that she will try and do something about talking to him about things.
When she came out of the room after they had left a little bit ahead of her, it was to virtually walk straight into Rafael and she shivered slightly as he said softly into her ear “Let’s have a drink and then get out of here, would you like to go and get some dinner or something?”
She shook herself out of her reverie for what the 'Or something?' had conjured up in her head telling herself quietly in her head 'not to go there!' As she then finally answered, "I'd like that, thank you."
After having their drink they did do exactly that, and just as they were leaving she turned round to see that both Carisi and Rollins standing there together watching, holding up their crossed fingers in the hands that they’d not got drinks in, as she rolled her eyes at them both once again she saw Carisi bend down and say something into Rollins ear and her nod in reply, so Sami guessed that he had once again said something about her having picked up the habits from Barba.
For their meal they ended up in a restaurant in Manhattan that she had wanted to try for a while, but didn’t feel right going in there on her own, so had just dreamed about someone taking her there one day, but she had never dreamed of it being Rafael.
As they shared their meal of soup, a smoked salmon flatbread with a salad and a chocolate mousse with a salted caramel sauce and yogurt sorbet for her, which she enjoyed. While they had been waiting for their main course to come their conversation began to drift to what their Christmas plans were, and she admitted that she still hadn't got a clue what she was going to be doing because with the blow-up earlier in the year no-one had bothered to call her and ask if she wanted to spend Christmas day with them, so it was looking like she would most probably end up spending it on her own. The only thing that was set in stone was that her cousin Jane would be coming to spend a couple of weeks or so with her in the middle of January, as she was going around doing her usual catching up with her and the rest of Jane's family and friends in the UK, where she was going following the visit there, that she had done ever since finishing up at Fordham Law and then emigrating to New Zealand.
The next thing she knew was that he was pulling out a long envelope from his jacket pocket and just before handing it over said to her, “What about us spending Christmas and New Year together?”
She responded, "How do you mean?"
“I’d like you to come with me so that we're both not alone for the holidays."
As he handed the envelope over to her she then blurted out "You mean as in like a date?" Then instantly had butterflies in her stomach, as she realized what had slipped out of her mouth and she began to bite her lip while waiting for his reaction.
To her surprise, he then leaned over and tapped her lightly on the chin to tell her to stop biting her lip, which she did and he then took her hand in his as he said: "I was thinking that perhaps it could be that, as I’ve been falling for you even more slowly but surely recently, and I had a quiet hope that you may be feeling the same way too.”
As she smiled back at him, but with a shy look on her face she responded by squeezing his hand and saying “I have been feeling the same way too.”
When their next course arrived just after she had said it, they let go of each other's hands as he told her before starting the course to open the envelope. As she did so it was to find that they were going to be spending their first date in Aspen, so he said: "I hope that you can ski?"
She smiled back and replied, "I've not been skiing for years, so I may be a little rusty."
“Well, I’ll look forward to reminding you of how to do it, plus we will be having the chalet all to ourselves.”
To which she couldn’t help the coy smile back at him when she noticed the little smirk that had appeared on his face, along with the slight eyebrow raise along with it as he said it.
At the end of their meal, he called them a car and they went back to her place for coffee, as they went into her apartment while he was hanging up his coat she went to turn on the lights on the Christmas tree, and the other lights that were around the lounge. When she turned back to face Rafael he was standing in the middle of the room looking up, as he sensed her watching him, he just smiled and crooked his finger for her to come to him, she did so and got close enough to him, he pulled her into him with his arm around her waist, as they shared a slow and tender first kiss.
When they broke apart and stood there looking at each other, she finally broke into a smile and said: "Well, at least I now won't have to kill Carisi for putting that mistletoe up there, as he and Amanda helped me to decorate this place and he insisted that I had to have some up there."
As they shared another soft kiss he said: "I don't think you should, as I think that it has certainly worked some magic."