Barba ran into Lucy and Noah in the hallway outside of Olivia's apartment, and while he was running behind he wasn't immune to the pull of Noah's exuberant greetings. After a few minutes of catching up, it was Lucy who checked her watch. "Okay, kiddo," she said to Noah. "We've got to get going or we won't have time to meet Jeremy at the park before school."
"Can you come with us?" Noah asked hopefully from his place on Barba's hip.
"Sorry, buddy. Not today." Barba gave the boy a squeeze before setting him down and picking up the briefcase that had been placed against the wall.
"Mr. Barba needs to make sure your mom gets to work, just like I need to make sure you get to school!" Lucy said brightly, trying to curb the boy's disappointment. "And I think your mom needs a little extra help today. But you'll see him soon, I promise. Now let's go – I bet Jeremy's waiting for you right now!"
"Thank you," Barba mouthed to Lucy over Noah's head. She smiled before hustling Noah toward the elevator.
Liv was just exiting the bathroom when Barba used his key to let himself into the apartment. When he saw her – and specifically what she was wearing - he was about to apologize for barging in but her greeting (or, rather, lack of greeting) seemed to indicate no apology was necessary.
"Good, you're here. I need your help choosing what outfit will be best for this jury."
"Can I vote for this one?" She was walking around barefoot in a white silk and lace slip that fell mid-thigh.
"Don't be gross. Do you need coffee first?"
"Just finished one. But I figured we'd get some on the way so you'll be freshly caffeinated when you take the stand."
They'd prepped her testimony at the courthouse the previous evening, but he'd warned her that the jury hadn't seemed to be responding as well to the more "powerful" female witnesses that had testified so far on either side. Normally he'd never suggest she consider trying a softer approach to see if it might help her connect better, but the trial wasn't going well and he really wanted to nail this guy. He'd still been a bit surprised when she'd agreed without much of a fight.
He followed her to her room and watched from the doorway while she pulled on option 1. "Zip me, please." Then she did a little twirl. "Thoughts?"
"It's lovely," he began carefully, "but maybe a little TOO much. I need you to be comfortable and still be YOU." He crossed to her open closet and started looking through. "What if you just pair some black pants with this – " he selected a more feminine top with muted colourful print – "to soften it up, and then maybe just go a little more obvious on the jewelry."
"THAT I can do. Thanks. Unzip?" As she stepped out of the outfit, he'd intended to leave her so she could finish getting dressed. But before he could turn to do so, she said, "Okay, can you walk me through the question about the outcry witness again? I had an idea after I got home last night."
"Sure." So Barba moved to half-lay on her bed, propped up on three pillows, and they talked while she stepped into her pants before facing away to pull the slip over her head, leaving her in only her bra before she quickly donned the shirt he had suggested. "Good?" she asked as she added the blazer.
"Um, maybe without the jacket?"
As she dealt with choosing jewelry, it briefly crossed Barba's mind that perhaps he should feel emasculated by what had just transpired. But then he figured that he'd probably opened the door to it the week before when he'd invited her into his apartment with the bottom half of his face covered with shaving cream and the bottom half of his body covered only with a towel tied snugly around his waist. He'd been running behind but had wanted to deal with her warrant requests before he had to be in court at 9:30, so it made sense for her to brief him, leaning against his bathroom counter, while he finished shaving.
It hadn't been a statement on his part. In fact, until today he hadn't given it a second thought. This was OLIVIA after all, and it wouldn't have occurred to him - or, he imagined, to her - to be bothered about him in a towel at this stage of their friendship, just like he wasn't bothered being in the room while she got dressed that morning.
"These earrings too much?"
"No, I like them."
"In that case, I think I'm ready to go." She took a last look in the mirror, and catching him watching her in the reflection, she finally took a moment to pause and breathe. "Good morning, by the way."
He smiled, his eyes soft and genuine. "Good morning," he echoed as she turned toward him.
"You're looking comfortable."
"I'd say comfort isn't exactly our problem."
She chuckled as she led him from the room. "No, I suppose it isn't. And I'm rather glad about that."
"Is that so," he said dryly. "Do tell."
"Well, beyond any sentimental considerations, it apparently means we don't have to rush so much to get dressed in the morning before these early meetings."
"I love it when you're practical," he said fondly, just as his phone made a familiar dinging sound. "Uber's here. So do you need me to pick out your shoes too, Lieutenant? Or can you manage that on your own?"
She slapped his arm in response to his sass. "Don't get TOO comfortable, Counselor."
He just grinned. "I wouldn't dream of it."