While Olivia was on the witness stand, Rafael watched Purcell especially closely, ready to object at any moment should he feel the other man’s questioning get out of line. It was common knowledge that he and Olivia were married and they had filed the necessary paperwork with their bosses. 1PP and the DA’s office always watched them closely, but they were just as careful to not create any conflict of interest. They stayed in their positions because they were passionate about what they did and they made a good team.
Manhattan SVU had become the best department in the city. Captain Donald Cragen was still commanding officer, but he had chosen Olivia as his number two and was encouraging her to take the sergeant’s exam. They had only told a select few people, but Olivia was pregnant again, which had made this case hit especially close to home for both of them. Added to that was the fact that Olivia herself was the product of rape and that wasn’t something she was comfortable admitting to even around their friends, let alone in a courtroom full of mostly strangers.
“Detective Barba , is it?” Purcell practically sneered.
Although he wanted to object, Rafael held his tongue. His palms were flat on the table in front of him, ready to push himself up at a moment’s notice.
“That’s correct,” Olivia replied, and he knew she was purposely keeping her facial expression neutral.
Purcell eyed her critically. “You wouldn’t happen to be related to Mr . Barba, would you?”
“Objection!” Rafael snapped. “Relevance?”
Judge Barth nodded at him. “Sustained. Jury will disregard.”
After a few more questions, Purcell began to ask about rape victims who end up pregnant with their rapist’s baby keeping the child.
“It happens sometimes,” Olivia answered.
“Why?” Purcell pushed.
“Because it’s what they feel is right.”
“That doesn’t answer my question. I’ll ask again. Why do so-called rape victims decide to keep their supposed rapist’s child?”
“Because it’s what they feel is right for them,” Olivia repeated.
Purcell was starting to look angry. “Once again, detective , that’s not answering the question.”
“Objection!” Rafael said, pushing himself to his feet. “Badgering.”
Judge Barth nodded again. “Sustained. Mr. Purcell, Detective Barba answered your question the first time.”
Taking a deep breath, Rafael sat back down, but kept his eyes on Purcell. He wanted to stop the trial and get Olivia off of that witness stand, but he knew that wouldn’t help the victim or Olivia.
After a few more questions from Purcell, Olivia was allowed to step down from the witness stand and returned to the gallery. Next up was Nick, followed by Fin, Amanda, and finally Avery herself. Disregarding several warnings from Barth about using Avery’s first name, Purcell continued to do it and it was clearly upsetting her. After letting it go a couple of more times, Rafael decided enough was enough.
“Objection!” he said, once again standing. “Badgering.”
Barth looked at him for a moment before she nodded. “Sustained. Mr. Purcell, you will refer to the witness as Ms. Jordan or I will have to disallow you to continue representing yourself in this matter. Are we clear?”
Purcell seemed annoyed, but nodded and came up with some fake apology about how he worked with Ms. Jordan and so calling her Avery was simply second-nature.
After Rafael’s carefully-crafted closing argument, the judge sent the jury off to deliberate. It took them two days to come back with a verdict.
“On the count of stalking in the first degree, we, the jury, find the defendant, Richard Purcell, guilty. On the count of rape in the first degree, we, the jury, find the defendant, Richard Purcell, guilty.”
After hearing the jury’s verdicts, Rafael turned to look at his wife, letting his schooled expression of indifference slip. He hadn’t been sure they would get the rape conviction. Meeting her eyes, he saw her almost imperceptible nod.
Once everyone had been dismissed, Olivia waited in the gallery for Rafael. It was spaghetti night and their children were expecting them home. Ignoring Purcell’s glare as he was led out of the side door, Rafael curled an arm around Olivia’s waist and led her out the doors.
“Do you need to stop at your office?” she asked.
Rafael thought for a moment. “Yes. Do you mind?”
Olivia shook her head. “Of course not.”
While Rafael looked through the files on his desk and decided which ones he wanted to put in his briefcase, Olivia smiled as she noticed a picture that still sat on the corner of his desk, even all these years later. He had only transferred to Manhattan a couple of years before, but they had actually met about eight years ago.
She and Fin had temporarily transferred to Brooklyn SVU to help with a staffing shortage and she had met her often-times infuriating ADA husband there. They both had strong personalities, so they had immediately butted heads, but they would both later admit to finding the other attractive from the moment they met. The picture in her hand had been taken by Fin on one of the days when they had gotten into a particularly heated argument about a case. There was a case file open in front of them and they were both pointing at different things while they stared each other down.
“What’s that smile for?” Rafael asked with a tilt of his head.
“Just thinking about the day this was taken,” Olivia replied, showing him the picture she’d picked up.
Rafael smiled as he took the frame from her. “You mean when I was muttering about the case in Spanish and you replied, in Spanish, that I needed to be patient and learn to trust my team?”
“That would be the one. You kissed me for the first time later that night.”
Rafael set the frame back down on his desk and then leaned over to brush his lips with hers, his hand lingering on her still mostly flat stomach for a moment. “The rest is history, Mrs. Barba .”
“That’s Detective Barba, thank you,” Olivia corrected with a laugh.
“Soon to be Sergeant Barba.”
Olivia rolled her eyes at him. “I have to pass the exam first.”
Rafael raised an eyebrow at her. “You act as if you aren’t going to pass it with flying colors.”
“Three children with a fourth on the way doesn’t tend to make for a lot of study time.”
“Marina is seven and as fiercely independent as her mother. Luke is four and he follows me around like a shadow, and Noah is two now and getting more independent each day. You know he’s content to just snuggle with you on the couch and watch a movie.”
“But they still need us.”
“Yes, but they can all tell us what they need. For the most part, anyway. You said you wanted to take the exam before the new baby is born. My mom and Javier are taking the kids to the zoo on Saturday, so you can relax in our bed and study while I get some work done.”
“You mean the gigantic bed that you insisted we get?”
Rafael raised an eyebrow at her. “I didn’t hear any arguments from you. I also remember someone insisting our house have a real fireplace and not one of those fake...what phrase did you use? Ah, yes, fake excuse for a fireplace .”
Olivia laughed, cupping his face in her hands and pressing her lips to his. “I love you.”
Rafael pulled her close and gave her another kiss. “I love you, too.”
After walking into the house with Rafael, Olivia handed him her coat so she could lock up her gun. Once their coats were hung up and their shoes taken off, they continued into the living room, where their children were engaged in various activities while Lucia supervised. They smelled the familiar scents of spaghetti coming from the nearby kitchen, which meant Javier was cooking.
“Where’s Lucy?” Olivia asked, referring to their new nanny.
“She was feeling a little under the weather, so we sent her home to rest,” Lucia explained before looking over at her granddaughter’s homework again and pointing at the last word. “Try again, nieta .”
Marina frowned as she erased the word and attempted to write it correctly this time.
“ Abuelito tried to convince us to have ropa vieja instead of spaghetti tonight, but I told him it was Wednesday and that’s always spaghetti night,” Luke told his parents.
Rafael chuckled as he reached over and ruffled his older son’s hair. “I thought you liked ropa vieja ?” he teased.
“I do, but it’s not ropa vieja night.”
Olivia bit back a laugh at the tone of her older son’s voice. He was so much like Rafael sometimes she wondered if he inherited anything from her. Both Marina and Luke had Rafael’s green eyes, although Marina’s were a bit of a darker shade than her father’s. They had adopted Noah just a few months ago and while he didn’t bear much more than a coincidental resemblance to either of them, he followed his older siblings around like a puppy so he was already beginning to use some of the same mannerisms as Rafael. But she wouldn’t change a thing. She loved her family.
“Javi,” Rafael said when he entered the kitchen, getting his step-father’s attention.
“ Bienvenido a casa, mijo ,” Javier greeted with a smile. “The spaghetti should be done soon.”
Rafael eyed the bag on the counter. “You made garlic bread, too?”
Javier shrugged. “That was your mami’s idea.”
“Did Lucy call her?”
“No. We stopped by to bring over the garlic bread and she looked a little pale, so we sent her home and assured her we would stay with the kids. Your mother made her text her when she got home.”
Rafael chuckled. “Sounds like her.”
“How’s our Livy feeling?” Javier asked. He and Lucia were two of a select few who knew Olivia was pregnant. She wanted to wait another month, until she was officially in her second trimester, to tell anyone they didn’t consider part of their inner circle.
“She’s good. No morning sickness or dizziness today. Court was...rough, though,” Rafael replied, letting out a breath after his description of how court had gone.
“We can stick around to help with baths and bedtime,” Javier offered. “I think Marina just has some reading left. Luke practiced his numbers and colors, and Noah has been playing shapes most of the night.”
“He loves that shape-sorter toy Mami got for Marina when she was younger.”
“If I remember correctly, Luke loved it too when he was Noah’s age. I’m sure your next little one will too when she gets to be that age.”
Rafael raised an eyebrow at the older man. “ She ? Do you and Mami know something Livia and I don’t?”
“Cati had one of her feelings this morning.”
“Well, she’s been correct each time so far,” Rafael admitted with a laugh. “Including us adopting a boy. Livia will be happy.”
“What am I going to be happy about?” Olivia asked as she entered the kitchen, stopping to press a kiss to Javier’s cheek before walking over to Rafael and tucking herself into his side.
Rafael wrapped his arms around her and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “ Abuelita had one of her feelings this morning.”
“Apparently we’re having another girl.”
“Hmm,” Olivia hummed, resting her head on Rafael’s shoulder. “That would be nice.”
“Dinner should be ready in about ten minutes,” Javier told them. “You two go change.”
“Come on, Livia,” Rafael said, releasing her to grab her hand and lace their fingers together. “You heard Javi.”
Olivia rolled her eyes at him but was smiling as she followed him upstairs to their bedroom.”You just want to see me naked,” she accused.
Rafael laughed, stopping on the steps to lean down and kiss her. “I’ll admit it is an added benefit.”
“I knew it.”
“What is this?” Olivia asked with a laugh when she and Rafael entered the dining room to see a bottle of sparkling red grape juice on the table along with four wine glasses. The kids each had a grape juicebox and there was a glass of ice water at each table setting as well.
“We wanted to do something special for you, Mom,” Marina explained. “ Abuelita and Abuelito helped.”
Olivia hugged each of her children followed by her mother-in-law and father-in-law. Technically he was her step-father-in-law, but she knew he had been more of a father to Rafael in the last five years than Rafael’s biological father had ever been, and their children called him abuelito . She had never met Rafael’s biological father, he had passed away years before they met, but she knew Javier well. He was a good man who loved Rafael as one of his sons and treated Lucia extremely well.
“So, where are mis hermanos amoros tonight?” Rafael asked as everyone took a seat around the table.
Lucia rolled her eyes as Javier and Olivia chuckled.
“Marisol is working, and Ivan is out of town on business,” the older man answered.
Rafael nodded and then turned to his daughter. “What did you learn at school today, mija ?”
Marina shrugged. “ Materia .”
“ ¿Qué tipo de materias? ” Rafael asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
Marina shrugged again. “Spelling, reading. Stuff.”
“How was your math test?”
Rafael narrowed his eyes at her, which she did right back to him, causing Olvia and Lucia to exchange a knowing look. This was a usual conversation between the two of them. Math was Marina’s least favorite subject, so she avoided it as much as she could. She also sassed Rafael back as much as she could get away with, and it never failed to amuse Catalina, Lucia, and Olivia. Luke was quickly learning to do it, too, which only added to the amusement.
Olivia had found out early on in her relationship with Rafael that he had quickly learned to hold his tongue around his father, but when the man wasn’t around, he was often sarcastic and always tried to negotiate for whatever it was he wanted on any given day. She had commented that it explained why he’d become a lawyer, which had made Lucia and Catalina laugh while Rafael simply rolled his eyes at her. They had declared then and there that she was perfect for him.
After dinner, Rafael led Olivia back upstairs to their room while Lucia, Javier, and the kids cleaned up dinner.
“Rafa, we have to give the kids their baths and put them to bed,” Olivia reminded him. “It’s not time for us to go to bed yet.”
“We’re not going to bed yet, mi vida ,” Rafael countered. “ You are going to relax in our gigantic tub and then relax in our gigantic bed while I give our children their baths and put them to bed. Mami and Javier said they would stay and help as well.”
Olivia felt tears prick her eyes. Even after nearly a decade with this man, she still got emotional when he would insist on taking care of her. She could still remember the first time he had seen her sick, just a few months into their relationship. She and Fin were still with Brooklyn SVU and she had been working almost non-stop for two weeks due to a series of complicated cases. Being so run down had caused her to easily catch the flu.
After calling in sick to work for the second day in a row, Olivia managed to take some ibuprofen and drink some water before falling back into bed and covering herself up with as many blankets as she could find. Her head was pounding and she felt miserable. She was getting hungry, but had no energy and briefly wondered if she could have some chicken noodle soup delivered. Before she could reach for her phone to find out, she fell back asleep.
When she woke up an hour later, she heard noise coming from the other room. Grabbing her comforter off the bed, she wrapped it around herself and got up to see who had interrupted her sleep. Fin and Rafael were the only two people who had keys to her apartment so it had to be one of them.
“Rafa? What are you doing here?” she asked, seeing her boyfriend standing in the kitchen stirring something on the stove. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”
Rafael turned and walked over to her, pulling her into his arms. He was warm and comfortable, so she laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. She felt him press a kiss to her forehead before he started speaking.
“I took a personal day. I can do most of my work from here. I was worried about you.”
“I have the flu, I’m not dying.”
Olivia didn’t have to open her eyes to know that Rafael was rolling his eyes at her.
“Let me take care of you, Livia. Por favor .”
Olivia sighed and nodded. It felt good to be held and whatever he was making was probably better than anything she could manage to order.
“Are you hungry, mi vida ?” he asked.
Olivia nodded again, but still didn’t open her eyes. She felt him chuckle and press another kiss to her forehead before he scooped her up in his arms and walked over to lay her on the couch, tucking a pillow under her head.
“Stay here and rest while I finish the soup,” he instructed. “Do you want me to make you anything else?”
“A sandwich? One of those toasted ones you made...however long ago it’s been now.”
“You mean medianoche ?”
“That’s the one.”
“Good thing I made them here and you still have all of the ingredients. And it was just a few days ago, by the way.”
“When’s the last time you took some medicine?”
After finishing the soup and pouring some of it into a bowl, and then slicing the medianoche , Rafael brought both over to the coffee table and gently nudged his girlfriend awake. When she sat up, he took a seat next to her on the couch and turned on the TV, keeping the volume low.
Once she had finished eating, Olivia pushed the bowl and plate aside and then lifted Rafael’s arm so she could lay her head on his shoulder. She saw him prop his feet up on the coffee table and felt him press a kiss to the top of her head as he tightened his arm around her. She closed her eyes and soon fell back asleep.
“What are you thinking about?” Rafael asked as he began to draw the bath for her.
Olivia smiled. “About when I had the flu and you made me your abuelita ’s chicken noodle soup and medianoche . I fell asleep on you.”
Rafael chuckled. “Not the first time, nor the last I’m sure.”
“I never heard any complaining from you, mi amor .”
“You never will, mi vida ,” Rafael replied, walking over to her and kissing her softly.
After giving all three children their baths and then reading them a story before tucking them into bed, Rafael padded down the hall to the bedroom he shared with Olivia. Their TV was on, but she was fast asleep in the bed. Smiling to himself, he turned off the TV and then crawled into bed beside her, pulling her close as he spooned up behind her.
“Rafa?” Olivia asked sleepily, linking her fingers with his where they lay across her stomach.
“Go back to sleep, mi alma . You and baby need your rest.”
“Mm. Love you.”
“I love you, too.”